back to article Australia to get 1,000 megawatt wind farm

Australia has commissioned the construction of a giant wind farm said to be capable of powering 400,000 homes. The project will see some 500 turbines being installed in New South Wales, near the town of Broken Hill, and will have a capacity of up to 1,000 megawatts. We at El Reg are just pleased to hear that the Aussies are …


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  1. John Latham

    1000 megawatts?

    Pah. If they'd only factor in an extra 21% capacity, they'd have the 1.21 gigawatts required to travel back to the future without having to steal plutonium from a group of Libyan nationalists!


  2. Luther Blissett

    Political imperatives

    Brilliant to see political imperatives in operation. Never mind that people are completely stuck for water, I hear, at least they will be able to die of thirst knowing that they've done their bit for saving the planet.

  3. Robbin Nichol

    2500 Watts

    Hmm one 3 bar fire will eat that right up, mind you not much need for electric fires in Oz, ah but an average window AC unit eats about 1000 watts, so pretty much 2.5 window ACs and yer done.

  4. Ferry Boat

    Bit late now

    They are out of the rugby world cup. So much hot air came out of that manager bloke that it could have powered the farm for years.

  5. Terry Ellis
    Paris Hilton

    1.21 jigawatts

    I think it's 1.21 jigawatts.

    I have no idea how many regular watts that is...

  6. Rick Brasche
    Thumb Down

    starting price of over 1 Billion USD before overruns?

    without all the insane politics, how many next generation nuclear reactors be built, providing much more power and being completely weather-independent?

    How long until the enviro wackos get this shut down, providing a perfect "dystopian" background of rusted half-completed wind towers, with local scavengers building scrap airplanes out of the busted wind props in the future...just like that gyro pilot in the Road Warrior...

    maybe they should save the money and go straight to methane power like in Thunderdome. There's plenty of BS in this "green" energy already.

  7. Neil

    If they build them near Aussie sports stadiums

    They'd be able to tap all the air movement generated by the whinging everytime a decision goes against them.

  8. Sampler
    Thumb Down

    Green Energy?

    Doesn't a windfarm turbine have to run for something like 10 years to become "carbon neutral"? (phrased as a question as I can only half recall hearing it and cba googling it).

    Don't they wreck miles of wildlife habitat and interfere with the migration of birds.

    Also all this talk of capacity I'm guessing means if each turbine was running at maximum - which will happen how often? What about average output - can we have figures for that? Or will that fact if they're lucky it will run a lightbulb be too embarrassing?

  9. Daniel

    @Luther Blisset: Water

    Actually, I strongly suspect that going forward, adequate supplies of power are going to be a key factor in water supplies as well. It is entirely possible to purify even ocean water with today's technology - not only to drinkable standards, but far beyond. However, the most economical processes still involve significant amounts of power. Probably the most promising systems are those built around reverse osmosis; there are already many such civic plants in existence, including at least one in Australia of which I am familiar.

    Considering that a power grid must be built above average capacity in order to handle peak demand, it is not that difficult to envision a system where some of the excess power during off-peak hours is used to run industrial sized reverse osmosis plants, filling reservoirs to meet the day's water demands. During peak hours when no excess electricity is available, the plant could draw minimum power, just enough to keep the membranes moist. It is in this type of pairing of system designs that projects such as large scale wind farms, tidal power generation, and solar farms really start to shine.


  10. John Latham

    @Terry Ellis

    "I think it's 1.21 jigawatts."

    At the risk of missing your irony, according to wikipedia (yeah, I know):

    "In the film's script the word "gigawatt" is spelled and pronounced "jiggawatt" (/dʒɪgæwɑt/). durga sunil and Robert Zemeckis had been to a science seminar and the speaker had pronounced it jiggawatt. This is an uncommon although accepted pronunciation of the word "gigawatt", not an error."

  11. Cody

    did you say 'up to 400,000 homes'?

    The article says up to 400k homes. So let us curious people know, we are not interested in how many homes it supplies 'up to' something. What we want to know is how many homes it will actually supply, and how much fuel will not be burned to supply them. In short, don't tell me my interest rate will be 'up to' 9% and then deliver 1 or 2, instead tell me exactly what you will be paying.

    I expect the answer will be that it will make no difference whatever to fuel consumption of the utility companies, and while supplying up to 400k homes, will in fact provide power intermittently (and therefore uselessly) to about one tenth of that number.

    However, it will be heavily subsidized, so the only one losing will be the Australian taxpayer....

  12. anthony bingham

    Wind in the Willows and Blow reality

    Focusing on Nuclear Power will eventually lead to " Fusion" as the only way to provide the massive "cleaner" energy needs of a planet full of plug holes and Microsoft inspiration ... every home ( or shed or tent ] will have one and that does not mean a windmill !

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Re: starting price of over 1 Billion USD before overruns?

    Yeah, the wackos won't like this...

    I commented on the greenness of hydro a bit back and was shouted down about the carbon in the concrete, presumably there's carbon in them thar turbines too!

    I reckon we should all live like the aborigines, a pure, unadulterated and short existence with saggy boobs...

    Not the ones who have succumbed to a sad combination of alcohol and racism of course, I meant the ones scrabbling about in the dirt for food - a much more noble existence.

    *slurps gin*

    BTW What's the Paris Hilton angle?

  14. André

    Yes indeed, Green Energy...

    Strange how most posters seem to have been getting high on the Exxon Mobil kool-aid. Paid shills maybe?

    See also:


    Doesn't a windfarm turbine have to run for something like 10 years to become "carbon neutral"?


    Much less. Reports confirmed by independent auditors indicate about 9 months worst case, with documented instances of achieving "carbon neutrality" in as little of three months. This includes construction of the turbines, siting, maintenance over the projected lifespan of 20 years, infrastructure (power lines), and tearing the turbines down and scrapping them after their useful lifespan has expired.


    Don't they wreck miles of wildlife habitat and interfere with the migration of birds.


    Answer to the first question:

    If you want to see a wrecked wildlife habitat, go visit an open pit coal mine. Or the Niger delta, or any of quite a few other places literally polluted to death by the oil industry. Or an uranium mine (the aussies happen to have the biggest known uranium ore deposit in the world btw).

    Answer to the second question:

    It appear that wind turbines do not much bother birds. They simply either fly over them, or between them. Good old fashioned power lines cause a lot more casualties.


    Also all this talk of capacity I'm guessing means if each turbine was running at maximum - which will happen how often? What about average output - can we have figures for that? Or will that fact if they're lucky it will run a lightbulb be too embarrassing?


    Planners will not put a wind farm just anywhere. Sites are chosen according to their aeolic characteristics, and the design of the turbines tuned to the specific site. This means that a well planned windfarm will yield on average between 25 and 50 per cent of nominal installed capacity. Best documented performance is credited to a site in Denmark with just over 50 per cent average.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ anthony bingham

    have you been drinking the koolaid with aManFromMars ?

  16. Starace

    @ André

    Ahh, the old 'paid shills' line. Great way to win an argument. Somehow I suspect someone else has actually been drinking the Koolaid.

    If you honestly believe that most windfarms are carefully sited, and the equipment is tuned to suit the site you obviously haven't reviewed the siting on any of the UK farms (mostly sited for financial reasons by the developer, with achieved loadings well below 25%), and you obviously haven't seen the production lines for the turbines, where they come out of the molds all exactly the same...

  17. BeachBoy

    Wind into Water

    Here in the canaries the local government often likes to boast how it turns wind into water (are you listening in Oz?).

    We have several de-salination plants generating drinking water that are powered by attached wind farms.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: interfere with the migration of birds

    Windows (The see-thru silicon technology) interfere with birds, you have windows on your house, yes?

  19. Herbys
    Gates Halo

    Uranium mine

    > Or an uranium mine (the aussies happen to have the biggest known uranium ore deposit in the world btw).

    What's wrong with an uranium mine? It is just a hole in the ground, and the only drawaback is in the radiation from the Uranium... which was already there!!!

    We can talk about the dangers of SPENT uranium, but extracting uranium creates just a tiny insignifficant fraction of the damage caused by the alternatives it replaces.

  20. André

    @ starace

    As for the "paid shills" line, Exxon Mobil sponsoring climate change deniers of all stripes can be considered established fact. The Royal Society can hardly be considered a bunch of greeny loonies. Did you bother to read the linked document?

    Regarding the performance of UK wind farms, I can more or less agree. But then the British performance when it comes to alternative energy sources is among the worst in Europe. A shame really since Britain has a lot of potentially excellent sites.

    One of the reasons might be that Britain is more eager to push nuclear, possibly for military reasons - read Trident. Compare France and the "force de frappe".

    Tuning of wind turbines is usually *not* achieved by different blade profiles as your "out of the mold" line suggests, but rather by rotor diameter and gearing wrt to nominal generator output.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    400,000 homes == one Google data center?

    ok, there's me coat...

  22. Name

    An interesting discusion of this sort of thing

    Read this online book, it explores the usefulness of various energy sources:

    Also Herbys, about what's wrong with the uranium mine, google:

    "in situ leaching", and then imagine that your drinking water was coming from a well.

  23. Aubry Thonon

    Re: 2500 Watts

    @Robbin Nichol "Hmm one 3 bar fire will eat that right up, mind you not much need for electric fires in Oz, ah but an average window AC unit eats about 1000 watts, so pretty much 2.5 window ACs and yer done."

    Erm... the output of the farm was quoted in MEGAWATTS, not in Watts. So you could (theoretically) power more than 2.5 ACs running at 1000 WATTS each.

  24. Angus


    The main concern is the tailings left. Or as as happend here in Australia contaminated water getting into the local creeks and rivers. Not to mention human error (try contaminated water being accidentally leaked into workers drinking water at one mine). Perception is king and unfortunately some of the mines here and one especially (Ranger), have had quite a few pollution accidents. Whether they were truely serious or not dosnt really matter in many peoples eyes. The fact that they have had that many does not encourage confidence.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Uranium a false economy?

    Think I read somewhere that more greenhouse gases are generated in extracting the uranium than using it would save? Nuclear power might be a good choice further down the line, when (a) we've worked out better ways of dealing with the end result, and (b) we have cleaner sources of energy we can use to dig it out and process it.

  26. Acme Fixer

    @Herbys, @Angus

    This seems to have turned into a pi$$ing contest. Recently I was reading that they are going to encase Chernobyl in another sarcophagus, so it will finally be entombed. But that doesn't deal with the large amount of contaminated land that had to be abandoned.

    Point is that if the wind farm contaminates, at least it won't be lethal if you're exposed to it for a few hours.

    But just think, you can go to the city of Pripyat (SP?) and watch the rabbits glow in the dark!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Australian Reality

    It appears to me that the neatly hygenic justification for windfarms by Andre above is ignoring a large herd of elephants in the room.

    Windfarms cannot be regarded as true base-load systems. They have to have 100% alternative capacity available from other systems. Now these alternative systems will typically be coal, gas or nuclear plants. So strike 1. For every wind farm you build you have to build a coal or gas fired power station to keep it company (In Australia nuclear is not a real option). The true cost of a wind farm then is far in excess of the nominal capital cost. However I'll concede that it won't be twice the cost as coal power stations are a fair bit cheaper than wind for the same power.

    At this point M. Andre and friends will be reaching for their keyboards to roundly dismiss the additional capacity argument by talking about averaging between locations, integrated grids etc etc. They will almost certainly fail to appreciate that this is Australia; Distances are huge; transmission costs are very high (and lossy) So strike 2. We now have to build a very expensive transmission system to a remote fossil powered grid that has to generate a lot more power than normal to simply push it through the wires to our windfarm site.

    Now reasonable planners will actually build a full capacity plant locally to make up the shortfall rather than ship power in via transmission lines. They will use gas (if available) or fuel oil, or perhaps even coal. So my argument at 'strike 1' stands. For every wind farm you build you have to build an equivalent fossil fuel power station locally, or an even bigger station remotely.

    As pointed out by M. Andre 25% of capacity is typical and 50% exceptional for wind farms. So strike 3 is that you have to over-build a wind farm by typically 3 times to get the design average efficiency. In comparison base-load coal and nuclear systems are highly efficient and run at high percentages of their rated output.

    Now finally, M. Andre and friends will be marshalling the argument that a lot of the stuff I am talking about - transmission lines and local generation - will already exist and so it not a cost. This is not a good argument. This 'other' infrastructure needs to be maintained. It will have a 'life' after which it needs to be replaced. So any costing of a windfarm must include the real cost of alternative/backup systems and transmission systems.

    The net result is: To build a windfarm you have to build an even higher generating capacity using baseload fossil fuel generators and deliver it to the customer via lossy lines. For every megawatt your wind system generates you have to pay for a lot more than a megawatt of unused capacity elsewhere - usually by paying higher charges for the power when you actually do use it.

    The economics of wind farms may work out in highly integrated grids like Europe. In Australia they will only make a profit by direct subsidy and by indirect subsidy where the fossil baseload and transmission capacity is provided 'free'


  28. Steve Roper
    Jobs Horns

    @Luther, Daniel and BeachBoy

    Australia won't build desalination plants for one simple reason - water restrictions. The lack of water here has allowed the government to justify enacting draconian controls on how and when we use water, and the accompanying police powers to enter premises to enforce them. Given the current world trends in removing public freedoms, our government has no incentive to provide people with plenty of water and thus risk agitation to give back a freedom they've managed to take away.

  29. Gleb
    Thumb Down


    As far as I remember, uranium is currently a scarse commodity with little prospect in the forseeable 10-20 year period. I think that investing into wind energy is a good idea in general, but some other ideas out there seem even more interesting. For example tidal energy seems to be, theoretically, much cheaper. While the scientific community still ponders the question of the most effective design, I say - build a few already, it's not like we are running out of sea.

    In the end, the key to emerging power demands; and as many already have pointed out - practically all enviromental conserns (fresh water for one),is a buckload of energy. Where do we get it? Why fusion, of course. It remains a mystery to me, why governments aren't spending the bigger parts of their research budgets to develop a great fusion solution...

  30. André

    Re: The Australian Reality

    Points taken.

    However, one should keep in mind that the economics of power generation and transmission may well change significantly in the not-too-distant future. Oil and gas prices will continue to rise, and coal will (hopefully) become too much of a liability due to the huge amount of CO2 emitted. Conversely, the (relative) cost of HVDC transmission lines - which are more efficient than traditional three phase AC lines when long distances are involved - will probably drop as they become more common and power semiconductor prices continue to fall. Wind turbines themselves will become cheaper and more efficient too - as soon as sufficient production capacity will have been established.

    Baseload capacity is one of the more hairy problems that must be dealt with. A combination of solar trough, tidal/wave power and flexible fossil fueled capacity might be the best bet.

    Tomorrow's world will need electrical energy, probably more than today's despite energy conservation efforts - but if we don't get off our lazy arses to begin with, tomorrow's world might not be worth living in.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Going to have

    to use it all everything and some new ones as well and no it doesn't matter how green it is or not.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Steve Roper

    Australia has already built desalination plants and is in the process of building more.

    It seems to be a trendy thing for Governments to do this and they are prepared to ignore energy costs and alternative water sources to enter the 'build a bigger desal plant' competition.

    Alternative resouces abound. For instance in Perth the desalination plant has been built and is now running despite Perth being built on one of the world's larger fresh groundwater resources - which is almost entirely untapped.

    The funny thing about the Perth desal Plant is the claim that it is wind-powered - based on a share in a wind farm further North on the coast. The problem is that that power has already been sold to buyers offsetting their 'green energy' obligations.

    The Perth desal plant is actually powered by low grade coal burning power stations.


  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Addition to the Australian reality

    Nuclear power in asutralia is still too hot a political potato. That hopefully will change but *shrug* its unlikely to happen soon. There is too much money in the coal industry and the ports currently don't have the capacity to ship the coal that would have been burnt in national powerstations (all of the major resource terminals are currently being upgraded).

    As for fossil fuel and uranium stocks - there has just been the discovery of a massive gas reserve on the border of queensland and SA. NT and QLD both have massive uranium reserves but currently don't allow mining for political reasons. And then finally mining will not cease in Australia until the reserves run out whether we need it for power or not. Mining is the primary driver of Australia's economy - thats simply all that needs to be said.

    Lastly we are about 2 months (max) away from a federal election. There is enough evidence to show Wind famrs are a total waste of time, money, space and resources. However they look almost as good as a politician hugging a sick kid. So hopefully post election the whole project is shelved.

  34. Ole Juul

    More on 2500 watts

    This is what most people run around here if they don't use electric heating. So for 400,000 homes that would be a continous 1000 megawatts. It seems to me that the promoters are not telling the truth, since (according to previous posts) less than 50 percent of that output can be realized.

    Actually, I think it comes down to the fact that supplying power "to" a given number homes is not the same as supplying "all" the power needed by those homes. 400,000 sounds better than say 150,000 which is probably more realistic. Using their logic a car battery could also supply power "to" 400,00 homes!

  35. Robbin Nichol

    @ Aubry Thonon

    1,000,000,000/400000=2500 watts per household, my point was 2.5 ACs per household. 2.5kW is not a reasonable estimate of consumption for an average household.

  36. Olly

    @ Gleb

    I too hope fusion becomes a reality on schedule (in about 50 years when I last checked), but in all honesty I fervently hope that governments do not become more involved than they are already. If there is one thing that governments have been able to show themselves able to cock up, over and over again it's big scientific projects!

    Let scientists do the science and leave the governments, with their agendas and desperate need to get elected, out of it!

  37. Killian

    Renewables in Australia

    On the subject of interesting alt energy projects in Australia, I stumbled across this a while back:

  38. H'arj Imladd

    Blow me down...

    Why do politicians tend to plump for wind farms, when they are so easily argued as a bad solution? Several people have pointed out they tend to typically run nearer to 25%-50% (best case) of rated capacity, so the headline figures tend to look good but are in fact highly misleading.

    Lets point out the obvious - it's not always windy !

    Regarding alternatives, even in sunny Australia solar power isn't ideal as they have night time too! The output of such installations is severely compromised regarding reliability of output. Although I must admit the solar tower concept appears good - currently being implemented in Oz...

    Most agree that we need an alternative to fossil fuels, lets not forget they are a finite resource which WILL run out at some indeterminant time in the future. An interesting point is once demand outstrips demand (15 -20 years or so) the price will rocket and other massively useful things we rely on like plastics will suddenly be at a premium too.

    The same finite supply dynamic applies to Uranium, especially as the volume use increases instead of fossil fuels. I'm not saying this will run out "soon" but it's a geological certainty that it will happen at some point.

    For renewable sources tidal warrants additional implementation as it's more reliable - the tide always happens, is less intrusive, plus you get a much larger power output per unit area installed (than wind).

    What to do? Fusion does seem to be the only currently research avenue to break this energy problem, yet the level of funding for this doesn't approach that spent on looking for new sites of non renewable fossil sources.

    Foolish IMHO.

  39. A J Stiles

    One thing I don't get

    There's one thing I don't get about wind power, at least not large-scale wind power.

    Charging a battery from a DC generator is a simple enough matter -- especially open-vented lead-acid batteries, which are highly tolerant of overcharging and 100% recyclable at end-of-life. But to feed power into the AC distribution network, you have to line up your crests and troughs *exactly* with the crests and troughs already on the line.

    If your generator drops down to 2999.999 rpm or speeds up to 3000.001 rpm (I'm guessing that Australia uses 50 cycles a second; which means that the alternator has to do 50 revolutions per second, which is 3000 per minute) then it becomes a motor and starts *consuming* power.

    Now, it's easy enough to control the speed of an engine -- you just supply it with more fuel if it's going too slowly, or less if it's going too fast. But how in the hell do you get a wind turbine to do *exactly* 3000 rpm, irrespective of the speed the wind is blowing?

  40. simon croft
    Paris Hilton


    I wont bother arguing with you on wind farms viability except this -

    every free (almost) unit of electricity that you can get from your wind farms in Oz is one that you don't have to use fossil or nuclear to generate !

    This means that you Ozzies get richer as you can sell that fuel to the rest of the world desperate for energy.

    With respect to your argument about needing extra generating capacity - whats new about that ?

    You have to have extra capacity at present because the amount generated by plants of all types including windfarms have to be matched to a constantly varying demand by users and to cover breakdowns.


    Minute by minute electricity demand is met by a mixture of sources at present. baseload ( typically coal or nuke ) stations churning out most of the demand.

    faster reacting but less efficient generating plants fill in the gap ( typically gas turbine or pumped hydro storage )

    With wind in the energy mix the top up is still needed as demand changes, just the mixture of sources will be different.

    In a well sited wind farm the output will change slowly compared with demand and will be predictable from meteorological conditions.

  41. Tim Greenwood


    There is some clever elektrickery involved so that they can generate at various speeds, in the same way that motors can run at variable speeds if they are inverter fed (actually the elektickery isn't that clever these days).

  42. anthony bingham

    @ anonimous coward

    I guess you would agree then that if man was intended ever to FLY he would have been Created with a "ram jet arse " and seriously limited imagination ... ?

    How about leaves instead of hair ... grow "weed" on top !I love the planet I am on ... enjoy.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When will the superstition end?

    It seems to me that the best way to fight climate change is to fight green superstition concerning nuclear power. Uranium is abundant, nuclear power is clean, and current designs are such that catastrophic accidents are not possible even in theory.

    In a recent survey in Finland, among supporters of various political parties, the greens:

    - knew more horoscope signs than the supporters of any other political party

    - recognised fewer birds than anyone else

    - got right fewer questions requiring basic knowledge of natural sciences than anyone else (e.g., greens, more than anyone else, thought that a falling star is created when a star dies)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Simon Croft

    Mate, you are so wrong!

    Hydro is ultra fast reacting. So is pumped hydro. These systems are absolutely suited to demand load.

    I don't think the the term effiicient even applies to normal hydro storage. Whatever you get out of a normal hydro dam is a plus. Pumped hydro may have a systemic efficiency loss but overall they are a cost saving by reducing the need for extra base and demand load systems.

    Next, your statement that baseload provides most of the demand is plain wrong - typically baseload provides 30-40% of peak demand. The rest is higher cost shorter response systems such as hydro, gas turbine, and some fossil fuel systems.

    Also wind systems are unpredictable in that there is no metric to say what power they will generate in the time scale that is needed - i.e. to allow base load systems to ramp up and down. Well sited farms never get into the 'reliable' category on any time scale under season averages.

    Finally your swipe that us Aussies can get richer by selling fossil fuel overseas. So do you think it is more responsible to ship our fuel overseas to plants that are demonstrable less clean and efficient than ours? Or do you think it is better that we process our fuel through our own world-class generators?


  45. Andrew Bolton

    @Robbin Nichol

    2.5kW per household is actually a lot. If you used that in your house 24hrs/day, that would be 60kWh/day, or over GBP600/qtr in electricity bill. Peak load is conceivably well above that (UK house may have 80A connection - theoretical peak of 19kW), but average over 24hrs is probably more like 1kW or less for average house.

    And while initial cost may be high, fact still remains that once it's built, every Watt that comes out of it has no associated greenhouse gas, which has got to be a good thing, hasn't it?


  46. Carl Pearson

    Blowin' In The Wind

    Whatever happened to the Solar Tower they were going to build in Victoria?

    The last news update is from 2 years ago, but they do have a financial statement from this past June.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    @Robbin Nichol

    You don't burn more than 2.5kw constantly, at least I hope not! My 2 person household uses 3.627Mwh per year (for heat light cooking and gadgets) so averaged as instantaneous power usage that would be 0.41kw well less than 2.5kw. Using 2004 figures from Australia uses 209.5Twh per year for a population of 20,434,176 so that’s 10.2Mwh per person per year (including industrial use as well as at home).

    Now a well sited wind farm produces 33% yield which is not unrealistic (25%-50% was stated above) the farm will produce 2.9Twh per year which is enough for 284313 people’s entire electricity usage both at home and their share of the much larger industrial usage. Assuming there is more than one person in a house (and I haven't made a power of ten error in my sums...) you quite easily get to 400000 homes.


  48. Aubry Thonon

    @Robbin Nichol

    Sorry for the misunderstanding, but having re-read your comment it still looks like you were advocatingg 2.5 ACs in total. ^_^

  49. Art

    Sure it is US billions

    Was that Australian billions or US billions the government here never says but uses both 1.8 with 12 zeros is a hell of a lot more than with 9

  50. Jim

    Some comments on these comments


    When making a comment like "Mate, you are so wrong!" you should read the post properly. I didn't see anything that suggested that hydro was slow reacting so why was he wrong?

    And what does pumped hydro have to do with supplying base load? That would be insane. The whole ethos of pumped hydro is that base load (ultra slow reacting capacity) can be kept online during low demand periods just to move water. This energy can then be returned rapidly during spikes, eg half time in a footy match. The only effect on base is that it keeps more online for longer, nothing to do with avoiding extra base.

    "The rest is higher cost shorter response systems such as hydro, gas turbine, and some fossil fuel systems."

    Maybe you know something I don't but I have never heard of a GT running on anything but fossil fuels (methane, oil, even coal). Maybe you mean CCGT but these are not fast response as the boilers take time to get online.

    @ A J Stiles

    Firstly, you do not need to run at 3000rpm to produce 50Hz. By increasing the number of pole pairs in the alternator you can decrease the speed, ie 2 poles = 3000, 4 poles = 1500, 6 poles = 1000, etc.

    Secondly, there is a wonderful invention called variable pitch blades. This allows you to alter the power transfer from wind to blade in much the same way as altering the flow of fuel in an IC or GT engine.

    Back to @ Jerry

    " Distances are huge; transmission costs are very high (and lossy)".

    Compared to either end of the circuit, transmission losses (the major portion of cost) are pretty minor - even over large distances. If you really want to talk about losses then best look at the power station. A coal fired plant manages to convert about 45% max of the chemical potential in the fuel into electricity and LWR nuclear manages a meager 1.6% utilisation of fuel potential. This makes the 93% efficiency of the transmission line look pretty amazing.

    @ All the "the wind doesn't always blow", pro-nuke brigade.

    I hope you are aware that the current designs of LWR nuke plants are required to shutdown (zero power) for 2 months every 3 years? That requires quite a bit of planning and backup capacity in itself. Also, should there be a scram at full load (not uncommon), it can take days for a nuke plant to get back up to capacity. Given that nuke has to be base load (slowest response generating plant) then there is quite a bit of redundancy required here.

    My personal view is that if the drive for 'the bomb' had not pumped so much tax payers moeny in to nuclear power then we would have a great deal more choices now for electricity generation. As it is, we see governments panicking and backing any old half-arsed project (including wind and new nuclear build) without any real understanding of the ramifications that those decisions have.

  51. oldfartuk


    2500 watts per household is not enough.

    Just having a quick count round my house in the winter and im running

    light bulbs=400W


    2x PC's=1000W

    Central Heating Pump=100W

    thats 1750W and if i turn on the water booster heater, hair dryer, Microwave oven and the outside lights it jumps to 5000W

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