Monday, January 28, 2019

It wasn't half hot man

Last Friday was extremely hot in Melbourne, with the temperature reaching 43 degrees, 110F. There were rolling power cuts to many suburbs and towns, lasting about an hour.

Fires in NSW tripped the power feed to Victoria twice and two of our dirty and polluting brown coal generating plants failed. We are told by some that we need base load stable generation, and this means burning coal. Well, the coal plants did not exactly cover themselves in glory in our hour of need.

It is amazing that things weren't much worse. What did save us were solar panels on home and business roofs, wind and solar power generation. I expect we pulled a bit of power from South Australia's massive battery power store. Our much less polluting gas power plants were probably at maximum generation. Alcoa shutting down its energy hungry aluminium smelter at 2pm and the arrival of a cool change in Melbourne perhaps also saved the day.

We have suffered two power cuts here. One was not avoidable (not a bad read. Every commenter has disappeared since, bar one. Take a curtsey Jah Teh. The Famous Bearded Media Person has become The Senator and his wife has is now his ex, among the many of his ex wives. We had some private email exchange after the event as he wrote things a bit wrong about the matter on his old blog) and one was because of rolling blackouts. These happened ten years ago. I maintain that where there is a high concentration of highrise buildings, these areas should not be blacked out, as people get trapped in lifts which is far worse than just feeling hot for an hour or so, and especially bad for anyone who is inclined to be claustrophobic.

If you lost power, you do have my sympathy. Very unpleasant. But this nonsense below was published in The Age newspaper. How long was their power off? Why didn't they take measures to stay cool? I expect Mr and Mrs Ojha may have induced a stress panic attack in their daughter. I hope it was a cool shower, not a cold shower.

“They could at least inform us half an hour before that your power is going to go out," he said.
Soon after his house was plunged into darkness (darkness in the middle of the day?) and the airconditioning ground to a halt at 1.30pm, his five-year-old daughter started feeling unwell.
She began vomiting. His wife tried to cool her down by putting her in a cold shower. “She had heat stroke,” Mr Ojha said.

People used to just deal with the heat without aircon and generally if youngish and in good health, did not die. Heat stroke after half an hour of no aircon, what nonsense.

There was something that really pleased me about the whole matter of the power cuts and that was the frankness and technical explanations by Audrey Zibelman, chief of the Australian Energy Market Operator. I had not heard of her until last week and as I heard her being introduced for a radio interview, I thought, here we go, another spin doctor who won't answer direct questions and will waffle on, telling us how good things are and how good her organisation is. But she wasn't at all. She was frank, direct, knew in depth what she was talking about and answered questions. This was on the already hot Thursday and she warned that Friday afternoon would be the critical time. Amazingly we were sending power to NSW on the Thursday.

After the above was set for publication, Daniel Bowen retweeted this from former State Labor government minister John Thwaites. It seems base load coal powered generation is not at all reliable and never was. 

When I was Acting Premier 19 years ago on a very hot day like today we had a far worse incident of load shedding. How could this be? We had Hazelwood and few renewables. Key contributor to extensive load shedding on that day? - Hazelwood units failed

28 comments:

  1. I saw a report on the weekend which said that the 'new low emission coal power stations' which the Government has been spruiking as the answer to all our problems will be even worse in the heat.
    Heat stroke inside after half an hour? Only if there is a serious underlying condition. Which, since it is not mentioned, I doubt.

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    1. EC, low emissions is not what we want. We can have no emissions power production and it is becoming better and cheaper every day. It is probably impractical to connect WA, but all other states should be connected by two way power transfer lines.

      Yes, heat stroke does not happen so quickly. Panicky parents, I suspect.

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  2. I managed to stay in the apartment keeping cool in front of the air conditioner. Fortunately, it seems that in a power 'triage' situation, the energy suppliers tend to prioritise power supplies into the CBD. Indeed, in my time living in Melbourne, I've only had one power cut in the city and that was very quickly resolved.

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    1. Ad Rad, that is good to know and I hope where we are is of the same status. My late step brother worked for the SEC and he decided who would we switched off if there was a lack a power.

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  3. As you know very few homes have AC here but with climate change I'm sure more homes will invest in AC. 43 degrees sounds unbearable. Dread to think what the temps are like in the Red Centre.

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    1. Marie, high forties in central Australia I believe. But it is very dry heat and not as bad as you might think. I heard that in Ireland in the summer there is much use of dehumidifiers, and humidity can be worse that heat.

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  4. Anonymous9:41 am

    I'm not surprised at the piffle in the Age as Fairfax got rid of any real journalists a long time ago and replaced them with the kings and queens of clickbait of which this drivel is a prime example. The Bearded One being wrong about something? Oh go on. - Ian
    PS Hope your freezer is stuffed with ice cream. Best way to keep cool.

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    1. Ian, yes, sadly our better papers are heavily into clickbait. Bearded One is rather self assured, yes. But he is very sociable and pleasant in personal encounters. Ice for drinks is the best way to stay cool.

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  5. High voltage transmission lines limit the transfer of power from state to state.To rectify shortage in Victoria more high voltage transmission lines are needed for state interconnection.Thi is needed to overcome shortages from dirty old base load local power stations which failed before the power black outs.I believe someone who I live with who worked 43 years in the power industry in NSW and John Thwaites before the current crop of politicians. The AEMO head Audrey Zibelman is excellent and very little of her reports and recommendations have been acted on to improve the system at this time

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    1. Gosh Cheryl, someone who actually knows what they are talking about. I would hope that the required connections between states are made. Is it correct that the cable to Tasmania is only a one way cable? Good to hear your approval of Ms Zibelman. She knows her stuff.

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    2. It goes both ways but there may be a limitation in transmission one way.

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    3. Thanks. I is hard to imagine a cable that can't carry power both ways.

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  6. Never been in 43 deg C and don't want to be.
    Heatstroke inside after such a short time - maybe her parents went off their heads so to speak because the power went out, got the young girl in a frenzy etc. could happen.
    I believe we sell power to Victoria. I read where the wind power didn't produce a great deal, not as much as expected.

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    1. Margaret, yes, induced hysteria for the child is my guess. Wind power did fall off at the hottest time, but solar (we need more) should have picked up the gap. We need a big battery. I think the cable is only one way. We can't help you if your power is short.

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  7. I'd like to know if the CBD buildings on a weekend drop the air-con temperatures but they're likely to be set and not moveable.
    I don't put the air-con on until late. I have a small fan in the study, one in the bedroom and one square large that sits on the floor in the lounge. That is good because it turns itself off and the casing means the cat can't get his paws or tail caught.
    Yesterday he didn't move from the chair from midday to 7 with the cool air blowing over him. According to my nephew I was passed out on the bed with my own fan when he called in.

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    1. Jah Teh, if they are occupied buildings, then people need to be cool. If not occupied, switch the air con off. I guess your place stays reasonably cool. Your pussey certainly got a good fanning. Good to hear your nephew called in to check on you, or steal from you purse.

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  8. Don't people throw themselves into the sea; or is it Shark infested?

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    1. Cro, yes, many go to the beach, but those with air con tend to stay home nowadays. In the past beaches in the evening would be packed. Now they are mostly backpackers.

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  9. I heard on the news that we shared power with you and thought back to all the times you had shared power with us. Maybe someday Australia will have a decent power grid that all states use and it never fails. Wishful thinking ha ha. I read the story about you being locked in a lift, I would have hated that, being mildly claustrophobic. I can use lifts as long as there aren't too many people in them, but being stuck in one would bring on the panic in me.

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    1. River, yes, I think we pulled power from you too, as you had already cooled down a bit. Your Elon Musk battery bank is pretty marvellous. For me, it was just an inconvenience to be stuck in the lift. I always go for lifts in preference to stairs and escalators.

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  10. Its Monday afternoon and its heating up again :(

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    1. Lady J, I was caught a bit unawares today at work. It was hot!

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  11. We struggled to get to 39C today Andrew, we've been lucky but I feel that may change any day now! Keep cool ✨

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    1. 39 Grace? A mistype? It has seemed to be reasonably hot for you of late from what I have seen.

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  12. 110F is very very hot. One summer I think we were 107F and that seemed hot. I adapt quickly. When I lived in the shack in Corvallis, my brother came one summer, stopped by. It was then 120F inside the house. He was horrified and ran and bought about the last small window aircon one could find in the valley. But I hadn't really noticed how bad it was inside, maybe like a frog in warm water that is slowly heated to boiling.

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    1. Your brother is very kind to you. Yes, you were perhaps the frog in the slow to boil pot.

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  13. yeah I call BS. Heat stroke doesn't just happen in a few minutes, it takes some time to build up. My guess is the small child was already dehydrated and they didn't do anything to mitigate the lack of aircon. Wet towels is a really easy thing they could have done, but nooo, let's externalise and blame someone else.

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    1. Fen, very much the culture of blame. I wonder if the child was really that ill anyway.

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Democracy is all very well, but why give it to the people? - Audrey Forbes-Hamilton.