A glossary of the terms used in the energy debate

Here is what is to me a very clear explanation of the jargon being bandied about in relation to the energy / lack of energy debate.

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Well Tamas it just goes to prove the old saying …" if B S was music the government , both Federal and State , would be symphony orchestras " :speak_no_evil:

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And Councils would be the chorus?

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A quick warning that some of the descriptions are not quite right, an example is “Baseload”.

Basically “Busload” is the minimum load over a 24-hour period. this is usually sometime between midnight and 4-am when most people are sleeping and only a few businesses are operating. As there is very competition at this time, the price for electricity is very low, the lowest over the day. Generally only the most efficient and therefore the lowest cost generating units operate at this time - these are referred to as “Base load” generators. Historically, these were the really big, mainly newer generators. At times generators have been used as busload and run at a loss just to keep them running to avoid the cost to shut them down and restart when demand rises.
During the day, when demand rises these ‘baseload generators’ are still operating, but they are really not operating as that because ALL generators compete to despatch power to the system. In this situation, solar panels are far more efficient and have much lower cost. The coal fired power stations have HUGE infrastructure and a lot of employees, all of which costs money.
So, ‘baseload’ is NOT the problem that politicians claim - when was the last time there was a blackout at night because there was not enough generating capacity? The system failures occur during the day when demand exceeds generating capacity. This can happen any day, usually due to a catastrophic generator or distribution failure! But failures are more like to occur on extreme days (hot or cold) when everyone turns on their air conditioners to heat or cool. Hot days have a double whammy because the distribution system cannot handle as much load, heat is the enemy of electricity!

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great explanation thanks @allandorrington

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Another significant reason for major power failures is the inability of some fossil fuel generators to operate in high temps, as seen in SA, and almost seen in NSW, earlier this year.

Baseload as a term is well past its use-by date, what is needed to successfully operate the national grid now is dispatchable power- power delivery that can match load. Coal-fired generators certainly are not able to do this, being very slow to ramp output up or down. Gas is slightly better, but hydro is much better, and battery/inverter storage can react extremely quickly.
Off-gridders like myself make use of the battery-inverter combination to meet huge variations in load instantaneously.

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Hi gordon:
The problem with power generation is not actually with one particular state, but with the interconnections being too small and too few. As I write this:

  • Queensland has a generation shortfall of about 340-MW, this is being made up by a transfer via the NSW interconnector, however
  • NSW has a generation shortfall of just over 900MW, this is made up by a transfer via the two Victoria interconnections;
  • Victoria has an excess generating capacity; however because it is exporting just over 280-MW to South Australia via the interconnectors, Victoria is importing 415-MW from Tasmania via the interconnected (the maximum capacity for that interconnector).
    {Information from AEMO Dashboard}
    So, power is being moved around states, but the amount is restricted as I said above the capacity and number of interconnectors. The one between Tasmania and Victoria is regularly operating at full capacity. sometimes from Tassie to Victoria and others reverse. If there were more interconnectors the system would be more stable. One that should be built urgently is an additional one between South Australia and a new interconnector (or two) with NSW!

This will not necessarily remove the risk of power failures the next few summers, but it will help make things more flexible. The other areas being studiously ignored is a reduction of demand as well as some additional generation capacity, particularly peaking power (the opposite of “base power”).

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