Baseload vs Wind – a dumb argument
by Tristan Edis
Reposted from the Business Observer in Australia:
On Saturday night, the wholesale electricity market price skyrocketed in Queensland from $63 per megawatt-hour at 10:10pm to $11,499 at 10:15pm. What happened is illustrated in the chart below taken from NEM Review, although smeared into 30 minute intervals.
It serves as a lesson that the concept of ‘baseload’ power stations equalling reliability is hopelessly simplistic, and wind power’s variability is not some huge unprecedented issue for system reliability.
The solid blue is the sent-out generation of the Millmerran coal-fired power station in Queensland, and the red line is Queensland wholesale prices.
For Thursday, Friday and much of Saturday, Millmerran did what good old baseload generators are supposed to do – oscillating its output not all that far from about 800MW (scale on right hand of chart). But then in the space of just 5 minutes, 800 MW simply vanished for all intents and purposes. Consequently the red line of prices skyrocketed as other generators scrambled to replace the lost capacity (scale on the left-hand but, because data is smeared over 30 minutes, the extreme price of $11,499 is obscured).