Reply to post: Re: Working wind turbines won't help...

18 seconds that blacked out South Australia


Re: Working wind turbines won't help...

This is not the case, Pompous Git.

The Snowtown wind farms in the north of the state started reducing output (shutting down individual turbines, one by one) because of the extreme wind force well before the blackout and had already restarted by the time the towers blew over. Snowtown started reducing output at 3:50pm. Wind speed there peaked at 3:58pm. Shortly after 4, Snowtown was back in business and ramping up towards full power.

The outage did not began until 4:18.

When wind farms shut down, they do so on an individul, tower by tower basis. An entire wind farm doesn't suddenly shut off in an instant, still less two completely different ones a long way apart.

The outage itself was, given the tornadoes that took the towers down, pretty much inevitable.

The real mystery is (a) why it took so long to get restarted, and (b) why much of the state's gas generation capacity was left idle right through the main part of the outage. (SA has enough gas generation, remember, to power the whole state without any help from South Australian wind, Victorian coal, Tasmanian hydro, or solar. The reason gas generation doesn't operate all the time, of course, is that it costs more than wind, solar, coal or hydro. They switch gas plants off when they don't expect to want the power.

The questions we need to be asking are (a) why, given the known extreme weather on the way, was there no extra capacity on standby? And (b) why was it that two different large South Australian gas generators, both supposedly black-start-capable, were unable to restart in a timely manner and get the lights back on?

(As a matter of background, it is normal for most power stations to require power to enable start-up. They need to do things like run cooling pumps and control electronics before they can start generating. It is also normal for a power network to have two or three designated "black start" generators, any one of which can provide its own start-up power and thus be the first one back online, this enabling the other (non-black-start capable) stations to start up in their turn. The designated South Australian black start stations failed, and the outage went on for many hours as a result.)

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