Whenever a country adds renewable energy to its power generation mix there are growing pains: brownouts, blackouts, or even rolling blackouts.
One reason: the average wind turbine rotates fast enough to produce energy about a third of the time, and solar cells are similarly impacted by cloudy conditions. Intermittent energy is a problem because power grids like a synchronous supply wherein supply and demand are kept in balance. Excessive rain, calm or usage can upset the balance, so the variance must be made up by tapping the system’s reserve capacity.
Whenever renewables are brought on-line, assumptions are made regarding the power they’ll supply and the buffering and reserve capacity needed to keep everything in balance. Those assumptions will be refined over time, but in the meantime, anything that varies significantly from expected norm can cause blackouts. That’s why climate change is potential on-going problem to full reliance on renewables.
A 200 kVA MG is well positioned to fill the void for cities and businesses suffering through the outages caused by an evolving power grid, but also for the utilities as well. An MG of that size can function as a mobile back-up generator and easily power government operations, a grocery store, or 200 homes as needed and then function as a regular work truck or remote power source the rest of the time.
As more and more countries add renewables to their power generation mix and as management and the boards of advisors and directors have extensive international sales and production experience, we see this as a very viable potential revenue stream by year’s end.
THE EXPERIENCE OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The Australian state of South Australia’s electricity grid relies on renewables for 40 per cent of its power. The state is bigger than Texas by almost half and is home to 1.7 million people. The majority reside in the city of Adelaide.
South Australia has been under pressure in the past few months after a number of blackouts. One in September blacked out the entire state. Tornados, thunder storms and fierce winds toppled at least 22 transmission towers and lightning also struck a power plant. Traffic was snarled, people stranded in elevators. Police warned residents to stay inside.
More outages followed in December, January and February.
After noting the blackout was caused by extreme weather, the federal government questioned whether South Australia’s heavy reliance on solar and wind-generated power made its network less resilient. And with many other states introducing ambitious renewable energy targets, there were warnings the same problems could soon spread to the rest of Australia.
THE PROBLEM OF CONNECTING RENEWABLES
As noted above, a big criticism of renewables is that they provide intermittent energy. If wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, the grid needs to get extra electricity from somewhere else. In South Australia’s case this would normally come from its gas-fired power plants, solar or the interconnectors that provide extra electricity from neighboring states.
Connecting different states will likely to become more important, as they move away from coal-fired power. About 3.6 GW of coal generation capacity is scheduled for closure at present, rising to 7 GW by 2030 according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Where coal is being replaced, renewables fill the gap: Almost 70 percent of the additional planned capacity is for wind-power plants, with another 13 percent going to solar.
The statewide blackout in September happened because the interconnector wasn’t designed to provide that much extra electricity, causing it to overload and the system to shut down.
OTHER REASONS FOR BLACKOUTS: EXCESSIVE DEMAND
Not all of the blackouts have been due to wild weather. A 107 degree day in Adelaide during the middle of summer (February) forced the utility to institute load shedding: the interruption of the electrical supply to reduce excessive load on the electrical generation system which causes rolling blackouts. 90,000 properties were plunged into darkness (and this on a continent that is expected to be hit hardest by climate change).
Blackouts could soon become more common in areas besides South Australia for other reasons. The Australian Energy Market Operator issued a notice warning of tightening supply/demand in New South Wales in February.
Two months later, equipment failed in Sydney (New South Wales). The outage affected far more than the 60,000 homes and business in the area just west of the central business district. It occurred just before the 4 pm rush hour and lasted over two hours. Up to 100 traffic lights went dark. Light rail was stopped in its tracks. And the tunnel on one of the city’s busiest motorways closed. Commuters trying to head home as well as visitors and fans heading to an annual festival and two sporting events were similarly impacted
The December 2016 blackout in South Australia caused the electricity distributor to make compensation payments of more than $19 million to about 65,000 customers. Working off averages, $19,000,000 divided by 65,000 is $292.
In actuality, the range of payments is broad. Power customers can expect to receive $100 for a 12 hour blackout up to $605 for a blackout of 48 hours or longer.
One thing the compensation doesn’t fully cover: the toll on businesses. (For more info, read the article here)
The government’s plans to add 2 GW of hydroelectric capacity and battery-storage proposals like the one Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk offered for South Australia should help balance out the unstable local grid in South Australia state.
Tesla Energy distributors in Australia have reported a 3,000% increase in demand for the Tesla Powerwall and other home battery packs after it was reported that owners were able to keep their lights on during the blackouts.
New capacity is very expensive and battery packs are small and designed for individual homes or small businesses. They will help, but they won’t make the problem go away.
With its mobility and output, a 200 kVA MG can help make up for the shortfall by powering traffic lights, apartments, condos, stores, businesses, government buildings and entire blocks or streets of homes.
If the utility is required to make compensation payments to affected customers, the truck can easily pay for itself. The average electrical consumption of an Australian house hold was 0.66 kw per hour in 2014 and power consumption had been dropping for three years
Now take the average payout of $292 AU. Multiply that by 200 homes = $58,400 AU or $45,552 USD which easily covers a truck conversion which then helps minimize or eliminate the payout the next time an outage happens. Plus, the truck can be used to cover ordinary power repairs and system upgrades in the meantime.