The South Australian Blackout


The South Australian Blackout.
by Terence Cardwell

This is NOT a once off event- it will happen again in the not too distant future and continue to do so.

Why? Because of the continual instability created in the grid system by the constantly changing wind generators and the reliance of power from Victoria, who have to continually get them out of their insane situation.

Any change in power generation from the wind generators has to be compensated for and chased by thermal power generation units which decreases their efficiency substantially and more than obviates any gain from wind generators. These severe load changes can create a power wave within the grid system that causes instability as the thermal units try to match the wind generators’ severe load changes.

Because the winds were so severe the wind generators would already have been non-operative and locked. So that 40% of the power was already out of service before the blackout. If the wind generators were allowed to operate in such severe winds they would have torn themselves apart.

So YES the wind generators DID cause the blackout by increasing the load substantially on the Victoria to S.A. interconnector.

It is the first time in the history of power generation in Australia that transmission towers have fallen over and we have seen far more severe weather than the S.A. storm. (I have personally operated units in such weather with no blackouts or instability in the grid system even though we lost two units. One of them being mine. The unit transformer was hit by a 20ft sheet of roofing aluminium torn of in the storm.)

Even though the towers had collapsed the grid system should not have gone out because the line protections covering those towers would have tripped within 6 cycles i.e. one tenth of a second, isolating them from the grid and protecting the rest of the grid system.

The hypocrisy of the South Australian Government is unbelievable. Because they had knocked down their black bituminous coal fired thermal power stations they had insufficient power. So then they had to import it from Victoria through the state interconnector which was never intended for that purpose. When the interconnector exceeded its maximum load capacity, it tripped, as it was supposed to do.

Guess where the imported power is generated? Yes Victoria—but where? The brown coal fired thermal power stations that have a thermal efficiency half of that of the black coal fired power stations that South Australia decommissioned to pander to the Greens.

The average price for electricity in South Australia with its 40% renewable energy is over $300 per megawatt hour. The average cost of electricity in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania is around $80.00 per megawatt hour.

To those gullible people who are so passionate about  ‘clean energy’ you can expect similar prices in the other states should they adopt South Australia’s renewable energy program.
Terry Cardwell worked for 25 years for the Electricity Commission of NSW working, commissioning and operating the various power units. His last commission was at the Munmorah Power Station near Newcastle, with four, very large, 350 MW power generating units.

He blogs at

13 thoughts on “The South Australian Blackout”

  1. You talk to the minders, don’t bother about the politicians themselves. If a minder can see that it is right and an advantage to the politician to understand he will pass it on more forcefully than you can.

    1. I have an idea that this comment somehow finished up on the wrong thread. Never mind, it’s good advice anyway.

  2. The price of $80 in the coal states is in fact inflated by the wind influence. We can generate electricity from coal at less than $40 per mwh in Vic, NSW and Qld ($50 in SA)

    1. I suspect the spot price goes through the roof every time the turbines are closed down in high winds because it happens so suddenly. Peak spot prices in Tasmania in July occurred when Musselroe Bay wind farm closed down even though Tas is 93% hydro. It would be much worse with base load power.

  3. Thanks John

    Well done.

    Despite all this, Premier Weather-ill is out there today confirming his commitment to wind “power”. LOL.

    Wonder how that will go down with guys at Whyalla who had a ladle full of 3,500 tonnes of molten steel when power went off, etc?

    SA state anthem from now on: “Blowing in the Wind”

  4. The now closed Port Augusta power station was fueled by brown coal from Leigh Creek not black coal as you stated.

  5. One other relevant detail is that wind energy necessitates something like 10x the number of transmission towers as do conventional sources of electricity.

    Therefore, wind energy, by definition, is much more susceptible to transmission tower failures, than are conventional sources.

  6. Terence,
    A typo perhaps? the statement “It is the first time in the history of power generation in Australia that transmission towers have fallen over” is patently incorrect.
    I can give you details of instances in Victoria where several 220Kv towers have come down in storm like conditions. In all cases however fault protection operation was confined to the affected line only and not state wide as in the recent S.A. debacle..

  7. The SA Government refutes every attempt to link this disaster to their renewables policy. They are a fact free zone. What’s more, the Liberals need to secure a two party preferred vote of 55% to take power, and even if they do, they are so inept that they are incapable of reversing this catastrophe.

    The blackout is still in the news in Adelaide this week; next week we will be back to gay marriage, a topic that seems to generate more interest than the slow suicide of 1.7m people.

    SA is finished and will slowly de-populate. All that is left is for other States to hopefully learn a lesson before it is too late.

  8. My letter on a closely relate topic was printed in the Mercury today:

    The Mercury

    Jack Gilding misses the point about renewable energy (“Renewables rapidly proving the cheaper option” 1/10/2016). When he says “cheaper” presumably he is referring to the installed capacity and in this sense he may well be correct. However installed capacity is not the whole story; he is comparing apples and oranges. Electrical power generation comes in three different forms: dispatchable (hydro), base load (gas or coal) and intermittent (wind and solar). Wind and solar are worthless as stand-alone power sources unless they are operated in tandem with some form of energy storage or standby supply (ask any butcher or hospital). Storing energy is often far more expensive than collecting it but this cost and the cost of gas-powered standby generators have been ignored by Gilding. Furthermore there are other issues concerned with integrating intermittent sources into the grid.
    Whenever alternatives are discussed, Tasmania is often wrongly assumed to be some sort of basket case. Typically, Gilding fails to mention that Tasmania, with 93 percent of its energy coming from renewables, leads the nation in this regard, outstripping its nearest rival, SA, by a factor of three. Furthermore, Tasmania’s hydro energy is dispatchable and can be sold into the national grid when prices are high.
    I agree with him that “We need to use our hydro storages as a big battery to cope with variations with wind and solar”. This is best done by using wind energy to pump water back into the lakes as is done elsewhere. It may not even be necessary for wind generated power to use the same grid because wind turbines can be sited close to where they are needed.
    We already have the infrastructure and skilled manpower in Hydro Tasmania to bring this about. Whether the ACT’s reverse auction mechanism is needed is debatable.

    John Reid

    The Mercury left out the bit about wind energy being on a separate grid.

  9. I feel empowered by having my own suspicions confirmed by someone with close knowledge and experience. Please let me know personally if you post this to politicians. You should because you cannot rely on them visiting your website; they have to be force-fed like an incapacitated patient on a drip. I have taken the liberty to Fwd this to my network and have included the Chief Scientist as he shows no signs of understanding this issue.

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