Hornsdale Power Reserve: the mouse that stopped the elephant from falling

After writing previous post, the RenewEconomy article kept going through my mind. The author of the article suggested that the response of the Hornsdale Power Reserve to a tripping coal fired power unit was extraordinary, when in reality it was insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I wondered why on earth the author was so lyrical about what was in fact a poor performance…

Then it suddenly struck me. It might well be a misinterpretation of how the event was represented.

Let me explain.

There were two graphs presented in the article. The first one is the frequency versus the response of the Hornsdale Power Unit and it stood central in previous post. There is however a second graph in the article and it is this graph that could easily lend itself to misinterpretation. It shows the sharp decline of the tripped coal unit combined with the response of the Hornsdale battery:

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Hornsdale Power Reserve: “outsmarting” lumbering coal units by four seconds?

This is an update on a previous post about the claim that the Hornsdale Power Reserve (in South Australia) is helping to prevent blackouts in Melbourne (in Victoria), roughly 1,000 km away from each other. In that post, I rejected that idea, saying that this was highly unlikely because the capacity of the Hornsdale battery is way too small to do so.

In the meanwhile, I got a link to an article that seems to describe such an event. At the end of 2017, just after the Hornsdale Power Reserve was put into use, a coal fired power plant unit in the state of Victoria tripped, causing a sharp drop in frequency and that triggered the Hornsdale battery to supply power to the grid. Its response was much quicker than that of a coal fired power plant commissioned to compensate for the loss.

Melbourne was not specifically named in the article, but the question doesn’t really change much: did the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia actually helps to prevent a blackout in the neighboring state of Victoria after a coal fired plant unit failed there in December 2017?

Did this article really provide some solid evidence that this happened? And if so, how did the battery manage to do so, considering its capacity is only 100 MW and can store 129 MWh?

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Hornsdale Power Reserve: calculating oneself rich

In Flanders, we have the expression “calculating yourself rich”. It means presenting one’s case in a too optimistic way that doesn’t accord with reality. This can for example be done by only counting the positives or by making overly optimistic assumptions. Both can result in an end result that is far too optimistic. Therefor “calculate” yourself rich instead of “being” rich. It is not real wealth, it is fully dependent on the tricks used in the calculation.

This expression popped up in my mind when I read an article about the blessings of grid sized battery storage (see previous post). To recap: two advocates for solar and wind claimed that batteries could replace natural gas power plants for peaking and gap-filling. Reading the linked article, it became clear that it had nothing to do with the claims made by the two advocates. The subject of the linked article described how the Hornsdale Power Reserve earned money by providing FCAS services to the South Australia grid.

This is how the article starts:

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Hornsdale Power Reserve: helping to prevent blackouts in … Melbourne?

After writing previous post, I wondered how much impact the Tesla battery of the Hornsdale Power Reserve actually has on the South Australia grid. Just looking at the numbers (the battery has a capacity of 100 MW and can deliver 129 MWh), I expected it to be rather insignificant. In the meanwhile, I came across a heated discussion on a reblog of previous post on the blog “Utopia, you are standing in it!“. That post was about the Tesla battery of the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia. The discussion started with the comment that South Australia is a net exporter and after the question how long the Tesla battery would last, this suprising claim was made:

Long enough to stop potential blackouts in Melbourne because of the unreliability of their coal fired power stations! […]

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Hornsdale Power Reserve: batteries compensating for intermittency?

It has been a while since last post (on the Doctor’s analogy skeptic style). This post will be a bit different. It will be about energy, more specifically about (grid sized) energy storage. It all started with this tweet from Jean-Pascal van Ypersele. This is the text of the tweet:

Those who argue that fossil gas plants are needed to compensate the intermittency of renewable energy should read this @McMarghem @eliacorporate @EngieBelgium @LuminusEnergie @Gregoiredallema

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The doctor’s analogy, skeptic style

This post will build on previous post. I ended that post saying that trust is key. It is not possible to comprehend the complete climate change picture, so in the end we will all have to trust, skeptics and alarmists alike. That trust is (mis)used in the doctor analogy. It goes like this:

Premise 1: You trust your doctor on health issues
Premise 2: Climate scientists are the doctors of the climate
Conclusion: You should trust climate scientists on climate issues

There are several problems with this analogy as I explained in some previous posts on this topic. The two sciences are actually not comparable, nor quantitatively, nor qualitatively. The doctor’s analogy therefor gives a false sense of certainty. In those posts, I focused on premise 2, making the case that both can’t be compared and therefor the analogy doesn’t fly in reality.

This time I will focus on premise 1, by looking at climate change communication by the experts and exploring whether this would warrant the same trust as we have in doctors. I will do this by invoking the doctor’s analogy myself, but this time in skeptic style…

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All gone by the year 2020: what does it matter anyway?

This is part 7 in the series on the prediction that glaciers in Glacier National Park will be gone by 2020. You might want to see to part 1, part2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6 if you haven’t already.

The last six posts were about the prediction that the glaciers in Glacier National Park would be gone by 2020. I also delved deeper in the relation of this prediction with a similar prediction that the glaciers would be gone by 2030, making the case that the 2020 prediction was an update of the 2030 prediction (contrary to how it is reported in most media).

Now you could object that this looks like nit-picking. Glaciers are shrinking anyway, that is also clear from previous post, so what does it matter whether someone made a wrong prediction of how long the remaining glaciers would last. The discussion whether the glaciers in Glacier National Park would be gone by 2020 or 2030 seems small change compared to the big picture that they will be gone in the future.

I could somewhat understand such objection, but I think there is much more to it than that.

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