The Base Load Misconception (Part 1): A Note from Tony

FOR a long time now, the term Base Load Power has been misinterpreted, and used incorrectly.    Those who support the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Greenhouse Gas Warming Theory have taken the term out of context to describe those large coal fired power plants that in their minds are the largest offenders. They use the word as Baseload, one word, and then attach it to those power plants as a descriptor, Baseload Power Plants, usually also adding the term ‘coal fired’.   However, the term is not a one word adjective.  It is two words and describes most effectively the actual physical electrical power that is being consumed.

I want you to look at this quite simple diagram, but don’t allow its simplicity to fool you, because it most effectively tells us everything we need to know about actual electrical power consumption. Sometimes because of the perceived simplicity of a diagram, it is often discarded as not being particularly useful in telling us anything, but once you realise what it is actually ‘saying’, it then becomes one of the most important things to look at when discussing electrical power, and because of its perceived simplicity, and with nothing to explain it to lay people, then it has been an easy thing for those people discount or to ignore it completely.

The chart shows the Load Curve for actual electrical power consumption.  Note how simple it is with virtually no information at all on it.  The X axis shows time from midnight through the day and back to Midnight.  The Y Axis is blank, and it is left blank for a purpose, and I’ll explain that.

This diagram is the same for large cities, Sydney, Melbourne, for smaller cities, and even smaller towns, and rural areas.

Scaled up, it is the same across a whole grid for an area being supplied by many power plants.

Scaled up again, it is the same for States, NSW, Queensland, etcetera.

Scaled up even further it is the same for Countries, in fact any Country in the Western World that has a constant and regulated power supply for every use.

Now that’s why the Y axis is left blank because actual total power requirements have different  totals for each of those areas.

It is, however, an indicator as to the total power consumption in those areas with the top of the chart being 100%, or the total maximum power that can be generated.

 Note how there are two curves, one for Summer Power Consumption (orange) and one for Winter power consumption, (blue) and again, I’ll explain that in a second Post.

Now note the dark line across the diagram. That’s at about 60%, and that’s about the only thing that does vary, but only by a few percentage points, usually on the up side, and can be as high as 65%.

Let’s look at the area below that line first.

Notice how the only time electrical power consumption falls below that dark line is for around an hour or so at about 4 AM, when nearly everybody is safely tucked away in bed.  Even then, almost 60% of every Watt of power that could be generated is still being consumed.

That electrical power just has to be there on tap, and for 24 hours of every day, every day.

Where is that power being consumed then?

This brings into play another misconception, that of actual power consumption.

People will more readily equate power consumption with what they personally use, mainly in the residential area, at home.

However, power is consumed in three major areas, with the tiny Transport sector making the fourth, that final 1% of power consumed.

Those sectors are the Residential sector which consumes 38% of all power. Then there is the Commerce sector which consumes 37%, and then the Industrial sector which consumes 24%.

That’s not just the consumption for an isolated area or town or city. It is the same virtually throughout the Western World, everywhere there is a constant and regulated supply of electricity to cater for every need.

The Residential Sector

To save repeating myself, I’ll deal with residential high rise in the Commerce Sector.

The chart is from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and while that date may look to be from a while back now, those segments are still roughly the same, and even while for a U.S. situation, this is basically the same for most residential applications across that Western World where there is a constant and reliable supply of electrical power.

At home, you have large consuming items that are taking power on a 24 hour basis, and as you can see from the pie chart there, almost one quarter of all residential power is consumed by water heating and refrigeration. As you can see from this, household lighting makes up barely 9% of all power consumption at home, and the mantra that changing light bulbs will, as if by magic, lower emissions is quite illusory, as by doing that, all you are saving in reality is just on 1% of your power consumption, and that I can explain that fully in a further Post if you wish, because, as simple as it may sound, it is quite an involved thing to explain correctly.

Again, as is easily seen from this chart, the furphy that Plasmas etc consume vast quantities of power is also misdirection. In that area indicating others are washing machines and dryers, all the electrical white goods used for cooking, etcetera. So, in the residential area, one quarter of all power is required absolutely, hence almost 9% of all power being generated is required on that full 24 hour basis just in this residential sector. (One quarter of that Residential Sector 38%)

The Commerce Sector

This sector also brings into play every level of Government, and that’s not just the operation of those elected officials. It covers every Department of every level of Government.

Think every hospital and health care facility that needs to have their electrical power every hour of every day. Think electric trains that run around the clock. Think motor traffic and the lighting and traffic control measures that also operate on that 24 hour basis.

Now, look at the skyline of any city, of every city, and not just the Capital cities. Look at every building higher than two or three levels, and here, also include those high rise residential living areas as well.

Think of the electricity every one of those buildings require on that 24 hour basis.

Not the lifts, the lighting, the work spaces etcetera, but the water and the air, and the sewerage.

The water has to be pumped from ground level into all those high rises with huge pumps that draw a lot of electrical power.

However, by far the largest consumer of electrical power in any building higher than that two/three levels is for the air. Here, it is often misconstrued as air conditioning, in other words heating and cooling.

In every one of those tall buildings, just walk across to the window and open it up to let in the fresh air for people to breathe. You can=t, because those windows are all sealed, and in most cases, they form part of the structure of those high rise buildings.

People work in those buildings and every one of them requires air to breathe, a constantly circulating supply of fresh breathing air ….. ‘conditioned’ air, and that’s where people have an incorrect perception of it. They look upon it as they do in their home. That conditioner unit supplies cold air inside the home, well, really, it is a unit that sucks the heat and humidity out of that space, and the fan re-circulates the air, giving the impression of cooling.

However, in those high rise buildings, those huge units on the roof are actually supplying a constant source of breathing air into that building, removing the stale air and recirculating new fresh air. The temperature is in nearly every case set to the same for all year round, and in Winter it ‘feels’ warmer, and in Summer, ‘feels’ cooler.

Those units cannot be turned off overnight after the workers go home, because the air inside them must stay fresh. Just turning them on and off is an entirely inefficient way to operate them because the air goes stale, the building heats up or cools, and if turned back on in the morning those compressors would have to run flat out to try and recirculate fresh air into the building, and to get the temperature back to the set level, if that even could be achieved, hence they are left running all the time, as that is how they operate at their best efficiency. The huge compressors that drive those units suck up a huge amount of power, and when you see how many of those high rise buildings there are, you can see that a lot of power is being consumed, and in fact, is needed around the clock as well.

Also in this Commerce sector is every shop, in every town or city. Those major Supermarkets, Coles and Woolies, don’t turn off their food and drink coolers overnight, and even with subdued lighting at night, nearly every shop you can see in every city or town is lit.

So, as you can see, this Commerce sector uses a lot of its power on that 24 hour basis.

The Industry Sector

Even though this sector only consumes 24% of all power being generated, most big industry operates on a 24 hour basis, so most of this sector uses nearly all its power on that 24 hour basis.

If most of the power in the Commerce and Industrial sectors is being consumed on that 24 hour basis, it now becomes easy to see that the absolute requirement for power is quite easily up around that 60 to 65% level.

That is the absolute requirement. This is the Base Load, load being the term used to describe actual physical consumption.

That level of power can only be supplied by plants that can run for 24 hours of every day, and currently those plants are those large coal fired power plants.

Let’s just take one large plant in isolation, say, Eraring in NSW. It has 4 huge 1300 ton generators and has a Nameplate Capacity of nearly 2700MW. It just hums along 24 hours a day all day, every day, supplying its power to the grid. The only carefully planned down time is for routine maintenance, one generator at a time, so as not to remove all its power from the grid at that time.

Let’s then look at a wind equivalent. Each Nacelle atop those huge towers has a 3MW generator inside, that runs, and supplies its full power while ever that 3 bladed fan is rotating. So, here you’ll need 900 of those towers to give the same Nameplate Capacity, and yes, read that again.

900 huge towers, just for that one plant, Eraring.

That’s not the end of it though.

The best those wind towers can deliver their power is at around 33% (claimed by proposers of these schemes), and the current Worldwide average is around 20%, but let’s split the difference and call it 25%.

Hence, those wind towers are only delivering their power for around 6 hours a day, and Eraring will deliver four times the power to the grids that all those wind towers will.

Eraring can deliver power to assist in fulfilling a Base Load requirement, with other large scale plants adding to that delivered from Eraring for the grid in that area.

If 60 to 65% of all power being generated is required on a 24 hour basis, then wind can never deliver this, no matter what, so just blindly claiming that wind power will end up replacing coal fired power is a lie, and there’s just no other way to say it.

That is what Base Load Power is. It’s not an adjective.

It’s a physical requirement.

In the next Post, I’ll explain Peaking Power, and for an early insight look at the Blue line on that Load Curve, and notice the times when it peaks.


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43 Responses to The Base Load Misconception (Part 1): A Note from Tony

  1. val majkus March 8, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    thanks Tony for this informative post; looking at wind power and it’s capacity there’s an
    interesting article in Quadrant Online
    The when and where of wind

    (a cut and paste of portion of the article)
    Electricity industry executives point out that generators have a transmission radius. They can transmit electricity only so far over power lines. A wind farm in Queensland cannot fill the gap if the wind in South Australia stops blowing. So then to have any real idea of the effectiveness of wind farms we would need to know just how meteorology interacts with transmission distances.

    About the only piece of evidence, one way or another in this part of the wind debate, of which I am aware, is a paper by weather analyst Andrew Miskelly and Tom Quirk, a former deputy chairman of VENCorp which managed Victoria’s transmission network. The paper, Wind Farming in South East Australia (Energy & Environment, 2010), looked at the generation figures for wind farms in South Australia and Victoria at five minute intervals for one month, June 2009. The figures are available from the website of the Australian Market Energy Operator, which now operates the connected grids for Eastern and South Australia. The pair found that when the wind died, it did so right across the two states. Adding in wind from Tasmania helped a little, but there were still problems with calm periods and major fluctuations, particularly in sudden surges of wind which could upset the voltage and frequency balance of networks discussed in the first article.

    The paper found that collective average output of the farms was about 30 per cent of installed capacity (this is in line with overseas experience) and, thanks to the spread of wind farms over two states, about 10 per cent of their capacity could be relied on for 90 per cent of the time. That’s not bad for a bunch of wind farms, but still nowhere near good enough for a grid.

    (there’s also a link at the foot of the page to Part 1 – final 2 paras)

    In Australia, no-one in authority has bothered to ask simple questions about actual carbon savings and costs, in part because they don’t realise the problems but also because that is not the point of the exercise. If the public wants wind systems then politicians will give it to them, but arrange it so that the public pays.

    One counter argument activists make to all the technical problems that beset wind is that really if the operators spread out wind farms, and adopt specialist forecasting systems, then wind will make a solid contribution. After all, wind must be blowing somewhere in Australia all the time right? Again, as we shall see in another article, it is not that simple.


  2. TonyfromOz March 8, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    The main topic here is about the Base Load Power requirement, and while I mentioned Wind Power in the Post, it was only for the sake of comparison.

    As you read my additional comments that I add here, there will be times I might refer you to Posts that I have contributed at my Home site. Linking into these Posts is not my way of drumming up visitors to the site that I contribute to, because in the main, every one of those Posts is in fact from those intervening three years, and they have already had many visits already over that time.

    I do this because any information that might be relevant is contained in those already constructed and Posted articles from the last three years I have been contributing there.

    So, rather than repeat myself in short comments here, I can direct you to a fuller explanation in depth that has already been Posted, with a short comment in reply.

    For those wishing to better understand how Wind Power actually provides its power, then that is detailed at this Post.

    Again, however, the main topic is that Base Load Power requirement, and if there are any questions, then I will either explain the answer or direct you to a place where it might be explained in more depth.


  3. wes george March 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Very informative post, Tony. Thank you!

    A cautionary tale:

    “Lawrence Solomon: Don’t count on constant electricity under renewable energy, says UK electricity CEO”

    Electricity consumers in the UK will need to get used to flicking the switch and finding the power unavailable, according to Steve Holliday, CEO of National Grid, the country’s grid operator. Because of a six-fold increase in wind generation, which won’t be available when the wind doesn’t blow, “The grid is going to be a very different system in 2020, 2030,” he told BBC’s Radio 4. “We keep thinking that we want it to be there and provide power when we need it. It’s going to be much smarter than that.

    Uh, smarter is this case is Orwellian for dumber.

  4. cohenite March 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Thank you Tony; I increasingly have this argument about whether wind and solar can supply base-load; I usually just point to California; or if extra detail is required with wind Betz’s law and wind variation which means the capacity factor is far less than installed capacity; interestingly, while you give wind credit for ~25% the AEMO only allows 10%:

    As you know because of Betz’s law, that energy produced by wind is proportional to the cube of the wind velocity and various design limitations any wind turbine can only provide about 1/8th of its rated power; but it’s worse than this; sudden gusts of wind produces huge spikes in energy and drops cause huge losses; no grid can accommodate this so I would expect that expensive monitoring and compensating mechanisms have to be bulit into system which is taking wind power.

    Solar is reputed to be even worse and more expensive than wind; in fact I would be interested in your opinion as to which is the worst: wind or solar?

  5. spangled drongo March 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Thanks Tony and Val.

    You can’t believe that the MSM are so stupid as to allow this green-worship of these “renewables” to pass unquestioned. I have lived with off-grid wind and solar power for years and know that without more than 100% fossil fuelled back-up it cannot cope but in remote situations where you have no other choice it can contribute something.

    With even the best of today’s technology, as a stand-alone or even combined with solar it will not work.

  6. TonyfromOz March 8, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    the data I use is from the U.S. EIA, and that is current to a three months lag, incidentally, the only place on Earth where electrical consumption data is published on that short a lead time.
    That data bears out that Wind Power actually is supplying it’s power to the grids for consumption at a rate of around 20% Worldwide.
    In the U.S. where they have so many of those towers, and they are the most recent technology, they are actually closing on a figure of 22 to 24%, while the rest of the Planet barely struggles to make even 20%.
    I’ve been doing a continuing series for the last 11 months, tracking specifically renewable power for the calendar year 2010 and I have one month’s data still to do, as yet not released as that data will not be available for another couple of weeks.
    The link to that most recent post is as follows:

    The link to all 11 Posts so far is as follows, and you can track it from Month to Month:

    I am concentrating on those two renewables most favoured, Wind and Solar, and in fact comparing them to what is happening as a result in the CO2 emitting sectors, coal fired and Natural Gas fired, and interestingly, while more and more of those renewables are coming on stream and delivering their power to the grids, there are significant rises in CO2 emissions from both of those sectors, greater than the increase in overall power consumption.


  7. cohenite March 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Yes, exactly; heavy reliance or installation of wind actually increase CO2 emissions:

    And Denmark is the classic case or example of where wind produces more CO2 because extra fossil fuel is necessary as back-up for the wind:

  8. Johnathan Wilkes March 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Well put Tony

    What surprises me is that people don’t realise what an important energy source electricity really is these days.

    They get upset when it’s off and and they can’t use the internet.
    Lose it for days on end and suddenly it will hit home.

    On the farm we used to have the old Lister (hand start) and wood for cooking and heating, kero fridge, then the self start Lister and bottled gas. Hooray! Mum was ever so happy.

    Hot water on tap, one can sort of, live without, but not without a means for cooking.

    Look at the price of bottled gas now! And how many people actually have standby generators?
    We live in the city now but I just happen to have one, just in case.

    Electricity IS an essential energy source today.

  9. TonyfromOz March 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    now, with respect to your question regarding solar power.
    For most of the last three years I have had this problem. No one believes a word I say, and that’s not because it’s bovine waste product, but mainly due to the fact that the data is just so astoundingly huge that people cannot comprehend it, so it’s easier to discount as not being true.
    To that end, I’ve had to be exact in what I say, and to provide confirmation in as many cases as I possibly can, and even then, people just will not believe it.

    One of the biggest problems I have is with Concentrating Solar Power, or Solar Thermal, or as Senator Milne describes it, the exciting advances in Baseload solar, and see the incorrect usage of that term Baseload, as I mention in the main Post.

    I have numerous descriptions of how this method produces its power, and all of them blow the fallacy of it being able to supply power to fulfill that absolute requirement out of the water.

    See above I mention Eraring which has a nameplate capacity of around 2700MW.

    There is not one Concentrating Solar plant on the Planet that can do this. Currently, the best they can do is 400MW, and they think they may be able to achieve 800 in a few years, but again, that is a hope that will be difficult to achieve.

    Every time I say this, with an explanation as to why it can’t achieve this, I’m shot down.

    Basically, tens of thousands of mirrors focus the Sun onto a compound. The compound goes molten from the heat, and the molten compound boils water to steam to drive a conventional turbine/generator complex.

    However, take this link and scroll down to the page to another of those almost meaningless diagrams, and read the text as well.

    It shows how the molten compound is only molten enough to boil the water to the required rate for around 8 to 10 hours a day, and while ever this compound can boil the water, then the generator produces at its maximum.

    For these plants to gain the subsidies they need for construction, and believe me, they are enormously expensive, then they are required to provide their power for the full 24 hours of every day.

    To achieve this, they have, on site, an auxilliary drive turbine powered by natural gas that takes over driving the generator when the compound goes off its molten make steam status.

    So, the plant actually is supplying its power for the full 24 hours, which in a way gives the impression that a (quote) Solar (unquote) plant is providing power to fulfill a base load requirement.

    What they are not saying is how this is achieved, and after you read the text, you will be positively amazed at just how much CO2 is being emitted from the Natural Gas portion of this power generation, and now this brings a renewable solar plant under the ‘Carbon Pricing’ scheme as an emitter of CO2.

    With respect to overall delivery of power efficiency rates in the U.S. where they do have the most recent technology, all forms of Solar both the one above and Solar photovoltaic are currently running at around, er, and wait for it, around 12 to 15%, which equates to around three and a half hours a day at the absolute best, so the idea that this can fulfill a requirement for 24/7/365 power is indeed quite ludicrous.


  10. cohenite March 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Yes again Tony; on another thread I had some nitwit say to me that ‘solar’ could provide base power because they had a photovoltaic system and it provided 400 kWhs per month; I asked them what it did at night, in winter and how much power they used but got no reply; the average family uses 8-10000 kWhs per year so I expect this guy was a hermit.

  11. val majkus March 8, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    o/t but relevant

    I’ve been looking at the issue of ‘due diligence’ in respect to Australian politicians; due diligence seems from my research to be expected in all professional relationships OTHER THAN politicians. The failure to follow due diligence opens the paid professional to claims of damages from claimants who relied on the advice to their detriment. However I’ve been able to find no case in the common law world which lays a politician open to the same claim. I’d be glad to be proved wrong. I’d be glad if someone could point to a way in which affected persons could hold a politician accountable for the ramifications of poorly made decisions. Corruption of course is a different issue.

    WHY don’t our politicians read?

    WHY is the Govt relying on the UN accepted science

    I can’t explain it but I suspect that the reason is that a politician’s only aim is to get into power but that should not excuse each of them from keeping up with events around the world including the EU’s experience with ‘renewable’ sources of energy like solar and windpower and carbon trading

    My view is that the UN should be disbanded and each country should have its own Royal Commission into whether or not AGW is happening

  12. Luke March 9, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    “WHY is the Govt relying on the UN accepted science” well Val – that’s because they prefer to not use faux sceptics, drongos, and lawyers who think they understand science which you’ve admitted you find hard going.

    When’s the last time you read a scientific journal paper Val?

    We should also apply due diligence to every sceptic who has misled us. Not short of examples.

  13. spangled drongo March 9, 2011 at 8:09 am #


    Now could you give us a little homily on why you think these renewables are a proposition?

    [With due diligence, of course]

  14. Neville March 9, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Luke you’re hopeless have a read of the latest on co2 emissions out to 2035 and you might start to wake up. China , India etc will double our emissions by 2035 by increasing by 20 times our emissions until then.

    As I’ve stated here a zillion times for years the first world is flatlining while the rest are going gang busters, by a factor of 20 to 1.

    Poor old Luke must be crying into his weeties to see his cherished fraud and con trick being exposed in this way and poor Juliar losing the race to explain her hypocritical bi-polar fraud to the people.

    You know that’s when we penalise and punish Aussies for producing more co2 but promote and encourage increasing coal exports so that other countries like Japan , China etc can emit as much carbon as they like. Brilliant philosophy I’m sure you’ll agree and such a brilliant outcome for those who believe in CAGW.

    BTW have a look at Bolt’s blog later today to hear an interview with a Jill moron sent out by the EU to promote clean green energy, it has to be heard to be believed.

    Needless to say Bolt easily ties her up in knots and she is left speechless trying to yammer on about her ridiculous message. You can’t explain away this lie no matter how much money you throw at it, or depending on which side of your brain you prefer to engage.

  15. Malcolm Hill March 9, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    “We should also apply due diligence to every sceptic who has misled us. Not short of examples.”

    Ditto for the alarmanistic scientists on the public teat, for which there are many..using and abusing the highly flawed Peer Review system…whilst remaining silent about its obvious deficiencies.

    The same gullible turkeys who think that Gore is God and that porn producer Pachauri is a suitable leader of the now clearly incompetent and compromised IPCC.

    What an absolute joke this whole charade has become

  16. John Sayers March 9, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    you can ascertain wind’s efficiency at this site:

    Tony – the largest solar thermal unit in operation is only 50MW – they get the 400MW by stringing them together.

  17. Johnathan Wilkes March 9, 2011 at 9:52 am #


    I wouldn’t mind having the contract to clean those reflectors!
    Never ending work it must be.

    Unless of cause they are self cleaning, they’d have to be I think.
    Imagine jut to drive past them would take hours.

  18. TonyfromOz March 9, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    true, in a way. Those plants are connected together, but for the sake of explanation, they are all in the one place, the one area so to speak.
    Take the link to this proposal, for which the funding has finally been approved.

    and also

    This is for Abengoa, their Solana plant to be located at Gila bend, near Phoenix in Arizona. It is the one plant and will have a Nameplate Capacity of 250 MW, for 1.45 Billion mind you, so an equivalent to replace, say Eraring you would need 11 of these.

    Read the ‘blurb’ for the proposal, and I’ll explain to you how that actually translates, shown also at this link to my home page.

    While the compound is molten it boils water to steam etc, and when not molten a Natural Gas plant drives the generator to produce 150MW of power.

    The truth is artfully hidden behind blurb that the average punter does not know how to translate.

    It says there that this plant will provide the full power requirements for 70,000 homes.


    That’s a lot.

    The plant is connected to the grid, and supplies the grid only, for consumption by all consumers (RES 38%, COM 37% and IND 24%. At no stage ever will this plant be connected directly to 70,000 homes.

    Now the truth part, using that misdirection of those 70,000 homes.
    In that area of Nevada, the average power consumption works out at 11,160KWH per year, so 70,000 homes would consume 780 Million KWH.

    A plant of 250MW Nameplate Capacity can theoretically provide 1.1 Billion KWH, so even with the Natural Gas Fired backup, this plant is delivering its power at an efficiency rate (ER) of 70.1%. (Large scale coal ER is 87.5% and Nuclear at 92.5%)

    That is supposed to be what is artfully misinterpreted as Solar Baseload.

    Remember that one Eraring Plant (at an ER of 87.5%) You will need 11 of these at $1.45 Billion, hence $16 Billion, and still not get power to fulfill every need, and still emitting CO2 at a monumentally high rate because of the Natural Gas fired backup, and that second link to my home site explains just how much CO2, which now falls under the umbrella of this ‘Price on Carbon’.

    If this wasn’t so serious, it would be comical.


  19. toby robertson March 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Neville, reality has no relevance when you live in a world of virtual realities and models. Overtime people will wake up to this con. I just hope we havent wasted too much money on the way. Politicians however seem to be notoriously stupid and probably only jump ship when it has cost them their positions of power. I think Lomborg puts it better than most when he talks about needing new technology to change anything and govts looking to pick winners and fund old technology is just slowing this process down.

    I would think if you actually wanted to make an argument for a carbon tax you need to suggest that it is low enough to cause little harm, but high enough to raise some funds for research and development. 1-5 dollars should do it! It will raise prices a little I expect but shouldnt harm us much and the certainty provided to base load energy suppliers should also help to drive prices back down until this new technology is found.

  20. spangled drongo March 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    I’ve been trying to find out how much diesel the Windorah off-grid power system still uses now that the new solar thermal plant has been running a while after being installed at a cost of around $100,000 per house but no one is saying.

    The big reflectors are getting shat on by huge numbers of birds that are out there at present with only muddy water to wash it off.

    Be interesting to get some performance figures on it.

    I understand that for that $100,000, the beer in the fridge is being kept cold though.

    And that is important in Windorah.

  21. John Sayers March 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    It surely is comical Tony.

    The molten salts only increase the station’s capacity for an additional 7 hours and the sun only shines for 6 hours so it can operate for 13 hours, the gas will carry it for the further 11 hours.

    PLUS – this is reliant on the sun shining – if there’s a storm for 3 days the gas drops it to 150MW capacity.

    This is the fraud behind the “Zero Emissions by 2020” paper.

  22. John Sayers March 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    BTW – The Kogan Creek power station in Queensland produces 750MW with one furnace and cost $1.2 Billion.

  23. TonyfromOz March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Keep in mind that the Windorah Soar plant generates only 150KW of Nameplate Capacity, utilising the concentrated Solar PV system, meaning it only supplies its power while the Sun is actually shining.

    That also introduces another factor with respect to both solar types of plant. Those mirrors in the case of Concentrating Solar, and the panels of the Solar PV need to be kept clean, and here I mean spotless and polished in fact, because the slightest film of any covering can reduce their efficiency by anything up to 30%, and that cleaning process is labor intensive, and hey, there’s your ‘green’ jobs I guess.

    Also, existing plants are having problems with breakage of the specially manufactured mirrors as well, that is also causing problems wherever these plants are in operation.


  24. cementafriend March 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Tony, Can you remember the White Cliffs solar power station? see here I visited the station before it was closed and was shown around by the superintendent. The mirrors had to be cleaned at least weekly and sometimes daily to maintain a reasonable collection efficiency. I was told about horrific maintenance problems including corrosion with the thermal fluid which was circulated through the mirrors and then to a heat exchanger for generating the steam. (Can not circulate water through the mirrors because of pressure variablity, scaling and corrosion pitting). Battery backup often did not work because of surge charging and draining. The diesel generator had to be used nearly all the time. There were often black outs when the diesel generator needed maintenance or it ran out of fuel. The underground motel had its own standby diesel generator because the power was so unreliable. I saw cost comparisons which showed that the difference between the high operating cost of the solar power station and the cost of power produced by Western Power at Broken Hill gave a very good pay back on the capital cost of connecting White Cliffs to the Western Power grid. I think the power station had 5 to 6 employees on a roster. Solar power is not free.
    The last bit on the Wiki site about photovoltaic cells is hype and half truths. It was supposed to be a demonstration site with lots of Commonwealth and state money but did not live up to expectations.

  25. val majkus March 9, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    Luke, you do make me laugh; currently I’m reading Counter Consensus
    Now, I understand you’re not a scientist so that puts me in the same league as you
    But who is better informed; that should be your question
    I’m still looking for it
    What about you; have you even thought about it other than to substantiate your opinion

  26. Luke March 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Val for you to be a lawyer interested in evidence you really haven’t attended to your brief. If you haven’t read WG1 and a good selection of the literature on Aussie climate science in the last 10 years – well you’d be having yourself on wouldn’t you !

    Even comments like “WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE THAT MAN MADE GLOBAL EMISSIONS OF CO2 ARE DANGEROUSLY HEATING” in caps shows your flimsy grasp of the issue. Maybe you’re a bush lawyer?

  27. val majkus March 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    nope Luke – bush lawyer – not even close!
    But maybe close to where you are?
    Give me (us) a scientific paper – no ad homs – just a scientific paper

  28. val majkus March 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Luke, I repeat my enquiry in your post ‘Looking for AGW in a Sea of Variability’; I received no substantive reply from you; here’s the enquiry – and what’s your reply now?

    But … before getting into all the bad things that can happen because of AGW where’s the evidence of that warming?
    Dr Roy Spencer discusses the 2010 global average temperature on his web site, over the 30 year base period 1981-2010 concluding that the difference between 2010 and the previous record high year, 1998, is hardly worth a mention.
    In 1998 the world experienced the greatest El Nino ever recorded pushing temperatures to a new record.
    In 2010, the world again experienced a very strong El Nino. Fuelled by that alone 2010 might have been another record year but for the intervention of a very deep La Nina, which immediately dragged temperatures down so they did not exceed the high temperatures of 1998. Then how much are the temperatures to be believed. Ira Glickstein at writes on 25/12/2010 GISS seems to analyze the data for decades, if necessary, to get the right answer. “A case in point is the still ongoing race between 1934 and 1998 to be the hottest for US annual mean temperature, the subject of one of the emails released in January of this year by NASA GISS in response to a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.’ Dr Glickstein writes about the ski lift adjustments made to 1998 and the ski slope adjustments made to 1934. The ultimate result ‘1934 has lost the hot race by about an eighth of a degree (0.12ºC). Tough loss for the old-timer.’ Thermometer records are also questionable. There’s the UHI and increasing urbanisation and the uncertainty described at Linked there is a recent paper from Pat Frank that deals with the inherent uncertainty of temperature measurement, establishing a new minimum uncertainty value of ±0.46 C for the instrumental surface temperature record. Anthony Watts reviewing the uncertainty associated with the act of temperature measurement itself and linking Marks study says ‘There are some enlightening things to learn about the simple act of reading a liquid in glass (LIG) thermometer that I didn’t know as well as some long term issues (like the hardening of the glass) that have values about as large as the climate change signal for the last 100 years ~0.7°C
    As we all know mankind’s burning of fossil fuels (mostly coal, petroleum, and natural gas) releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere but where’s the evidence that this is causing GW? Shouldn’t that question be answered before we get into the droughts; floods; heating; cooling; cyclones and the myriad of other things that currently by some are attributed to GW?

    No ad homs, no models; just name a peer reviewed paper

  29. John Sayers March 9, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Luke’s nightmare

  30. Luke March 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Val – until you have read some science there’s no point in talking to you. You’re a blog bilge guzzler. Wattsup is a disinformation source. It’s pure unadulterated crap.

    There is no individual AGW paper – there’s a whole case built on multiple papers over decades. You haven’t read any of them – so you’re a uninformed dope. Read WG1 – the summary of the body of science.

    But Val – can you give a single paper that proves the universe exists and has two examples?

    John Sayers – a datum point in time – gee whiz …. zzzzzzz

  31. Luke March 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    In fact you had a number of papers on the previous light bulb thread but – but golly gee – poor old Val said “it’s too hard” and ” I don’t understand”. Oh dear.

  32. cohenite March 9, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Hi John, do you have a link to the main post with the oscillating brightness map from Goddard? At RSS at TLT and TMT, low and mid troposphere, there does appear to be slight warming at both levels since 1998:

  33. TonyfromOz March 10, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    I’m actually glad that the original Thread has moved off the original topic about Base Load Power, and into the standard AGW argument, because what that effectively does is to open the door to be able to show what will be the end result of moving away from CO2 emissions that we are told ad infinitum are the cause of this Climate Change/Global Warming.

    All those believers in this new religion have no idea what that end result is, and because they are so locked into the one path, they fail to even check what the ramifications might be. It’s easy to find ‘Science’ that agrees with your belief, and when that end result is pointed out, all of a sudden the person pointing it out has an epithet attached to them, sceptic, denier etcetra.

    Well then, here is the end result of what that belief will lead to.

    This is a scenario, and don’t be lulled into a false idea about that, thinking that the data is bogus, or has been massaged, or made up, or twisted in a way to give a false impression.

    This is actual data, real time data, accurate data.

    Currently in the U.S. they have reached a total Nameplate Capacity for Wind Power of 41,000MW.
    This is the same Nameplate Capacity of every plant in Australia that emits CO2 from the process of generating electricity, Black and Brown Coal, Natural Gas, and Oil derivatives.

    So if that same Wind total was transposed to Australia, there would be no CO2 emissions at all.

    However, what that actual real time data proves conclusively is that it can only deliver one third of the power to consumers that all those current Australian plants do.

    One third.

    If 60% of all power being generated in Australia is required absolutely, 24/7/365 those wind plants still only deliver one half of that total, but that’s an academic argument anyway because the best these actual figures show for that delivery of power, it’s only on average for six hours a day.

    This is the end result of that belief that we must lower CO2 emissions, Luke. You can quote all the Science you like. Until you realise this fact, well, mate, you’re looking in the wrong direction, for all of us.

    That level of power will destroy Australia, and that’s not figuratively speaking either, that’s actual.


  34. kuhnkat March 10, 2011 at 6:40 am #


    Unfair!!! You are using current reality as an argument. Where are the IPCC supported models!?!?!?! (snicker)

  35. Curt March 10, 2011 at 7:11 am #

    I’ve read several places that many utilities regard solar and wind power as “negative variable load”, not even as “peaking power supply”, due to their unpredictability. (Residential air conditioning is regarded as a [positive] variable load, because its magnitude depends so much on the day’s temperature.)

    I think this is the best way of looking at these sources — not as something that can supply needed power, but something that may be able to offset some loads under the right conditions.

  36. Luke March 10, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    Tony well what’s wrong with nuclear then? As usual the debate has been corralled effectively on comfortable turf.

    As for all this utter utter drivel about “destroying” Australia – sounds a tad alarmist doesn’t it. There is this thing called elections – you may have heard of them !

    I can see you’ve swallowed the Neville brew too – “gee AGW is a difficult problem – ergo therefore it doesn’t exist”. That’s good ol’ engineer’s logic for you.

  37. Luke March 10, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    John Sayers – are you that intellectually bankrupt as to promote a cherry pick a high point and low point month as THE comparison. This is why serious scientists just laugh at you lot

  38. TonyfromOz March 10, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever with using the Nuclear process for the generation of electrical power, and in fact, if any Government were serious about replacing large scale coal fired power on a like for like basis, then, in fact, this is the only option.
    On that like for like basis, Nuclear power generation is (infinitely) cheaper even than any Wind or Solar method for producing electrical power, and in fact is the cheapest method of all for producing any large scale electrical power.

    Having said that, when the current leader of the Australian Government says that Nuclear power generation is not an economically viable option, and when the bulk of her own Party are anti nuclear, and when the Socialist left of the Labor Party, er, sorry, The Greens Party, are totally against anything with the word nuclear attached to it, (apparently never having heard of Nuclear medicine, which is somehow OK) then Nuclear power generation has no chance whatsoever of being introduced.

    No, their mantra is that we need Wind and Solar to replace carbon (Dioxide) emitting, er polluting, power plants.

    I have a layman’s look at every aspect of Nuclear Power Generation, at the following link with links to a multi part series on the subject, but I’m sort of hesitant to recommend it to you, because I think you might pick me up on a spelling mistake in one of those parts.


  39. val majkus March 10, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Tony thanks for this post and for your comment at 12.32 am
    I’ve linked those to Jo Nova’s blog

  40. cementafriend March 10, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    Tony, you mentioned nuclear power lokk at this

    The Chinese have announced that they will be installing Thorium reactors. That is what Australia should be doing- practically no waste, infinite supply, base load and peak capability. Of course the oil companies do not like it, nor do some mining companies, the military in some countries and without doubt France will not be a supporter. Most probably the greens will not like it because they will have nothing to complain about.

  41. spangled drongo March 10, 2011 at 2:12 pm #


    Those LFTRs are certainly a smart way to go and we certainly have plenty of thorium. But the loonies are panicking and sending it all off to China:

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