Monday, October 10, 2016

Why renewable energy can't supply all our power needs

Australia had a massive power outage that's a cautionary tale for those who'd like to get all of our energy from renewable sources. 
The Australian Energy Market Operator’s preliminary report into the recent South Australian blackout reveals that the primary reason for the total loss of power was a sudden reduction in wind power being fed into the electricity network, according to free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

“The Preliminary Report makes it clear that while the weather was responsible for multiple transmission system faults, the blackout did not occur until after the sudden loss of 315 megawatts of wind output at six separate sites over a six second period,” said Director of Research Brett Hogan.

“The South Australian Government and the renewables industry can no longer credibly argue that the reasons for the fault relied solely on the weather. Images of downed pylons do not tell the whole story.” “In simple terms, the wind increased and some transmission lines went down but electricity generation continued. It was only the as-yet-unexplained reduction in wind farm output which overloaded demand on the interconnector with Victoria, causing the whole network to seize up.”

“Gas generation continued through the storm and the transmission line faults as did supply from the interconnector. Importantly, it was also the Torrens Island gas-fired Power Station that was used to re-start the electricity network later that evening.”

Source here.
Renewable energy as it's called is a variable output energy production system.  When conditions for a wind farm or solar panel ranch are favorable, they can produce really well.  Inclement weather can shut them down, however, and if too much of your power grid depends on them then your entire grid may fail.

That's why we need base load power plants that aren't variable based on the weather.  Here's a truth that would upset aging hippies:  the best, safest source of base load power is nuclear energy.  Fortunately, several companies are working on liquid fluoride or other liquid salt reactor generators.  This is likely our future whether environmentalists like it or not.

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