Thursday, December 12, 2019

To Be Fair, They Weren't Expecting Any

Report: A Cloud Drifting Over a Solar Farm Knocked Out Power for 10hrs in Alice Springs, Australia
. . . an independent report blamed operator incompetence for allowing clouds to affect the solar energy supply.
NT sacks energy chiefs after report into Alice Springs system black Giles Parkinson 9 December 2019The Northern Territory Labor government has sacked the territory’s two most senior energy chiefs following a damming report from the market regulator into a “system black” event that hit the city of Alice Springs in October.
Tim Duignan, the CEO of Territory Generation, and Michael Thompson, the head of network operator and systems control company Power and Water Corporation were both sacked after the government received a report from the Utilities Commission into the outage, which affected 12,000 customers for between 30 minutes and 10 hours.…

It seems clear that this is not a problem about technology – despite some trying to sheet the blame on the amount of rooftop solar in the local grid and the impact of passing clouds – but of corporate and energy culture. And of incompetence.
An investigating report by consultants Entura – requested by the Utilities Commission – found that staff managing the system did not anticipate the approaching cloud cover, and did not know what to do when they realised what was happening and output from the Uterne solar farm and rooftop solar panels declined.
Thermal generators failed because they had not been properly maintained, and the staff had no idea how to re-start the machinery, because procedures had not been updated since the installation of a big battery. To cap things off, there was insufficient spinning reserve and the system was unstable.…

“This whole debacle could have been avoided if the companies and the government had shown real leadership by listening to workers and acting on their concerns raised about the condition of Ron Goodin PS and the capabilities of Owen Springs to deliver reliable power to the Alice Springs community,” he ETU said in a statement.
…Read more:

The official report is available here.
They don't get many clouds in Alice Springs. Pictures from Alice Springs on our Australia vacation in 2009.

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