A dramatic loss of wind power helped trigger South Australia’s statewide blackout when the interconnector with Victoria subsequently became overloaded, the first report into the power crisis has revealed.
The Australian Energy Market Operator found storms caused multiple transmission faults, including the loss of three major 275-kilovolt lines north of Adelaide in the space of 12 seconds.
Generation was initially maintained but “following an extensive number of faults in a short period (seconds), 315MW of wind generation disconnected”.
“The uncontrolled reduction in generation resulted in increased flow on the main Victorian interconnector to make up the deficit,” AEMO said.
This resulted in the interconnector overloading and an automatic-protection mechanism tripping the line to protect it from damage, causing the rest of the state to go black.
The report also found key electricity transmission towers blew over after the blackout began last Wednesday afternoon.
The AEMO yesterday confirmed 10 wind farms in South Australia had been ordered to limit generation on an ongoing basis, as it was concerned a failure, or trip, of multiple generators could recur following another disruption to the unstable grid.
Malcolm Turnbull yesterday said Labor Premier Jay Weatherill, who has championed an aggressive green energy policy that forces South Australia to be powered by a more than 40 per cent intermittent renewables mix, had made power unaffordable in the state and he “has to answer for that”.
South Australia’s last coal-fired baseload power station, at Port Augusta, was forced to close in May because of the rise of green power in South Australia, leaving the network at risk of voltage collapse and widespread blackouts, according to transmission company ElectraNet.
Mr Weatherill, who continued yesterday to maintain last week’s statewide blackout was wholly related to severe storms and not linked at all to renewable energy, claimed the Prime Minister was “fearful that he would be blamed for a national electricity market that caused a blackout”.
Mr Weatherill announced a hastily arranged renewable energy summit for today at state parliament.
South Australia’s Climate Change Minister, Ian Hunter, said the summit would “provide accurate and factual information about the role of renewable energy in Australia” ahead of tomorrow’s COAG Energy Council meeting in Melbourne. Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the summit was “all about spin and feel-good meetings for Premier Weatherill”.
Independent South Australian senator Nick Xenophon yesterday accused Mr Weatherill of being “more ideological than practical”.
But AEMO chief operating officer Mike Cleary said “at this stage we cannot apportion blame”.
“As to whether generation could have or should have managed through those types of faults at this stage is still subject to investigation,’’ he said.
Greg Evans, from the Minerals Council, said South Australia desperately required a “sensible” energy mix to avoid such blackouts.
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