The facts about the South Australian Blackout
What happened in South Australia on Wednesday 28th September?
A one-in-50 year weather event hit South Australia with severe thunderstorms and damaging winds exceeding 90 km/h. Hail the size of golf balls struck the state with 80,000 lightning strikes reported. The severe storm resulted in catastrophic damage to power infrastructure with multiple transmission towers taken out.
Wind power did not cause the blackouts
The failure of South Australia's energy network was due to the severe weather event, pure and simple. A mega-storm knocked out 23 transmission towers and high-voltage power lines. Storms of this magnitude will knock out the power network no matter what the main source of power is; coal or wind. As a standard safety response, the South Australian energy system was isolated from the National Electricity Market.
Wind power was supplying 50% of South Australia’s power as the lights went outs
South Australia’s wind farms were generating nearly 1,000 megawatts of power into the state’s electricity system (approximately 50% of the state’s energy demand), before the mega storm tripped the network at 3.48pm on Wednesday 28th September. The graph below shows that the wind farms were shut down when the network failed to carry the energy they were delivering.
Attempts to blame renewables are not only unfounded, but irresponsible.
A range of commentators and politicians used the South Australian blackout to make baseless claims about renewables. Defenders of the fossil fuel industry have been quick to condemn renewables despite there being no evidence that renewable energy sources were linked to the power outage.
This mega storm is a wake-up call for Australia.
Climate science shows that we will experience more extreme weather events like this mega-storm as the temperature rises and we have a wetter and warmer atmosphere. We need to rapidly reduce our greenhouse emissions.