Australian Wind Performance Shows the Net Zero Dream is a Nightmare

Guest Post by Rafe Champion

On Wednesday morning, before breakfast, South Australia and Victoria demonstrated why the net zero dream is actually a nightmare. The logic of the Iron Triangle of Power Supply signals that there must be a continuous delivery of power to the grid to meet demand.

Ignore the peaks of wind and solar supply, they are not the critical metric for success of the system. The critical indicator is the lowest level of supply. The weakest link in the chain, the low point of the flood levee. The gap in the fence.

Between sunset and sunrise, all the responsibility for “renewable energy” falls on the wind supply (and storage you might say.)

Before breakfast this morning (Wed 15 March) wind was delivering practically nothing in South Australia (SA) (5% of demand at 1.4% Capacity Factor) and Victoria (VIC) (0.4% of demand at 0.7% Capacity Factor).

Across the National Electricity Market (NEM) wind was delivering 2% of demand at 4.7% of capacity. It went lower as the day went on while the combined efforts of wind, sun and hydro peaked at 50% in the mid-afternoon

Before breakfast SA, Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) were in deficit and the grid was bookended by power exported from Queensland and Tasmania. But Tasmania (the battery of the nation) was burning gas in order to have power to spare. The island state has been mostly importing lately to protect the water level in the dams.

So much for the aspiration to replace coal power with intermittent inputs from sun and wind, plus a bit of hydro. Forget about gas in the quantity required to replace coal.


The NEM Widget at 7am, Wind is the green parts of the bars.

The NEM, dominated by coal(72%). Wind 2%. Gas 10%, Hydro 15%.

Below is South Australia (SA) with local generation dominated by Gas and almost 50 % of demand was imported indirectly from Queensland (QLD) and Tasmania (TAS), through NSW and Victoria.

Below is Victoria, dominated by Brown Coal.

BELOW, wind in Victoria 14-15th, less than average (29%) for 24 hours and less than 10% (severe drought) for most of the time.

Tasmania, dominated by Hydro and burning gas this morning to prop up SA because there was no power to spare in Victoria or NSW.

Originally posted by New Catallaxy, republished with permission. 

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  1. This morning at sunrise it is more of the same, the wind is contributing 7% of demand in SA at CP 2.4% and in Victoria the score for wind is 5% at CP 7.7%.
    Across the whole of SE Australia (half the continent, excluding Western Australia and the Northern Territory) the wind is contributing 5% of demand at CP 12%. Coal was over 70%, gas 10% and hydro 13% with solar starting to make make a contribution.

  2. I’m looking for the blackouts, brownouts, etc that must follow if the dream is actually a nightmare. Have they happened?

    If you want to write a believable article elaborate on the actual nightmare.

    Everyone knows that the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t shine. If you have no systemic provisions to respond appropriately, you get a nightmare.

    The thing that is missing from your article is the fact that it’s not a nightmare at all – due primarily battery storage. To date this had been mostly from large utility-scale batteries, but increasingly distributed energy ((rooftop solar) is being added to the mix. South Australia, far from being a nightmare, is the world leader in moving to a totally renewable energy future. If there is a nightmare involved I’d love to know the specifics!


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