A dramatic, sudden loss of wind power generation was the root cause of South Australia’s state wide blackout last week.
And the bulk of damage to high voltage transmission lines that was caused by high winds and paraded as evidence to defend renewables most likely took place after the power had been lost.
These are the major facts contained in the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) preliminary report.
More work is needed to flesh out the forensic, time sequenced analysis that has already been conducted.
But there is enough in the interim report to make the rush to defence of renewables mounted by special interest groups and conflicted state governments since the lights went look foolish.
Certainly, the power would not have been lost were it not for the big storm.
And seven big towers were damaged in the lead up to the blackout.
But AEMO said data currently available indicates that the damage to the Davenport to Brinkworth 275 kV line on which 14 towers were damaged “occurred following the SA Black System”.
The big event was a 123 MW reduction in output from North Brown Hill Wind Farm, Bluff Wind Farm, Hallett Wind Farm and Hallett Hill Wind Farm at 16.18.09.
Seconds later there was an 86 MW reduction in output from Hornsdale wind farm and a 106 MW reduction in output from Snowtown Two wind farm.
No explanation was given for the reduction in wind farm output.
But the loss of wind farm production put too much pressure on the electricity interconnector with Victoria which cut off supply.
This in turn led to a shut down at the Torrens Island power station, Ladbroke Grove power station, all remaining wind farms and the Murraylink interconnector.
AEMO says a lot of work is needed to fully explore what happened.
But definitely there are lessons here for putting high levels of intermittent renewable energy into the electricity system.
The speed with which renewable energy spruikers rushed to argue otherwise is a measure of their ideological self interest.
Originally published in The Australian as South Australia blackout: interim report makes renewables defence look foolish.