Why is this happening now in a developed nation in the 21st century? The simple answer is that renewables, apart from being two or three times more expensive than fossil fuels, are intermittent, unreliable and unpredictable.
If the sun isn’t shining (which it doesn’t, at night, not even in Australia) or the wind isn’t blowing, then the power needs to come from more conventional sources like coal and gas. The more renewables in the energy mix – 40 per cent of South Australia’s energy capacity is now wind – the more inherently unstable the grid becomes.
Hence the great blackout of September last year: a storm forced a shut down of wind power to prevent surges; this in turn crashed the entire local grid.
There were just a few big wind gusts in a small area of the state which downed a few pylons holding up the power lines, but the damage had already been done by the safety measures, supposedly designed to stop the grid blowing itself up. Once the grid failed it needed power to restart the wind farms, but the pylons which had fallen down were crucial to keeping the whole grid connected. Some of us were lucky to get power back within four or five hours … but some areas were waiting over five days, isolated areas, including one city, was without power for much longer.
Just a reminder, that the storm was not anything out of the ordinary in most parts of the state, and the severe wind was a narrow band across a crucial part of the grid. This is the first time in 60 plus years, probably ever, that South Australia has had a state wide blackout.
Can’t wait to see what happens when we get a really severe storm!