Ill Wind: Australia’s Greenest State Blacked Out By Power Cuts

A file photo shows Pineview Station owner Mark Lacey repairing one of his broken windmills
Chris McGrath/Getty

The entire state of South Australia was blacked out by power cuts last night sending 1.67 million householders back to the dark ages. This comes just days after a report called Keeping The Lights On warned that black outs might be a consequence of the state’s radical green energy policies.

Local media has blamed it on “the most extreme weather systems to hit in 50 years.” But a more likely culprit would seem to be the state’s disastrous “clean” energy policy which has driven up electricity prices to insane levels and severely threatened the reliability and stability of the state’s grid.

As we reported at Breitbart earlier this year, South Australia now has the cleanest energy in Australia – 40 per cent of its energy capacity comes from wind – but also by far the most expensive. The wholesale price for electricity in most Australian states is $30/MWh and $32/MWh. Earlier this year, in South Australia it reached an eye-watering $1400/MWh – wreaking havoc on energy-intensive local industries such as BHP.

A renewable energy lobby group called the Clean Energy Council has been quick to deny that the massive blackout has anything to do with green energy policy:

“The blackout in South Australia appears to have been caused by extreme winds which have caused damage to large electricity pylons at multiple locations across the state, policy manager Tom Butler said.

“This is not an issue relating to power generation – whether renewable energy, gas or otherwise – and by all accounts there was little that could have been done to prevent it.

Mr Butler said wind power was generating lots of electricity at the time the system went down, with the rest of the state supplied by gas-fired power and the interconnector.

“It is important to remember that this is a once-in-50-year storm, and no power system can fully prepare for the savage winds, lightning and hail that pounded the state today. It is a freak event.”

But Australia is not a Third World country and is well used to freak weather events. Indeed, it’s an island of almost nothing but freak weather events The idea that a storm – even an alleged once-in-fifty-years storm chucking down hailstones the size of golfballs and comprising over 130,000 lightning strikes – should be capable of immobilising an entire state’s grid network is more a case of culpable incompetence than an Act of God.

This is what a report published earlier this week by Australia’s Grattan Institute warned would happen. And it wasn’t even a particularly anti-renewables report. It simply pointed out that the drive for renewables in South Australia – led by a character called Tom Koutsantonis, who came to power as South Australia’s Energy Minister with a bold promise to reduce net carbon emissions in his jurisdiction to zero by 2050 – has driven many, traditional brown-coal-fired power stations out of business. This means that there is a dangerous shortage of reliable, baseload power capacity in times of crisis.

South Australia’s experience offers a salutary warning to all those other countries foolish enough to imagine – as the Labour party does in Britain, for example – that renewables represent any kind of workable solution to the world’s energy problems.



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