Villain no 6d – Diversity is not a magic wand

I’ve touched on this in quite a few articles on WattClarity over the years (including recently on 13th May in terms of wind production), but today’s main article about what’s happened in the Queensland region yesterday prompted me to publish this short article about another manifestation of Villain no6 – Reaching for a Magic Wand.


Early last year, as part of the analytical process underlying the 180-pages contained within the larger Generator Report Card 2018, we invested considerable effort in exploring the extent to which there were times (historically) and would be times (in the future) where ‘the sun does not shine and wind does not blow’, as clearly that’s one of the underlying challenges:
1)  That needs to be understood, firstly;
2)  So that practical solutions can be implemented to deal with those occasions in the future when this will occur.



The GRC2018 was finally released on 31st May 2019 after a mammoth effort – so almost exactly a year ago today.

With respect to this particular piece of analysis, we determined that it would be fairly certain (even if we dotted every Renewable Energy Zone with wind farms) that there would be times in future where the aggregate output of wind was exceptionally low compared to the aggregate capacity installed.

We’d noted our hope, in Theme 10, that others could take this as a starting point to determine further key pieces of information such as how long these lulls might last, how frequently they might occur, and the reasons behind them (like the ‘wind drought’ of June 2017, for instance).  To our knowledge, we have not seen this done by others since this time – which is disappointing in a way, but also represents to us an opportunity for further exploration in the next edition of the Generator Report Card (one for 2020 perhaps?).


As noted in today’s main article, on Saturday 23rd May we saw widespread cloud cover across Queensland (which had been in place for several days) significantly dampen both:
1)  aggregate solar production from both the 24 large-scale solar farms currently installed and registered across the Queensland region, and
2)  the rapidly growing fleet of rooftop PV systems installed across the state.

One more excellent reference case for exploring possible limitations to the benefits of diversityIt’s not a magic wand!


It’s worth noting, however, that others at the ‘rabid right’ end of the Emotion-o-meter (themselves very much also Villains) seem to naively clutch onto the notion that diversity is of no use whatsoever.  This view is even more incorrect, and perhaps more destructive as well!

About the Author

Paul McArdle
One of three founders of Global-Roam back in 2000, Paul has been CEO of the company since that time. As an author on WattClarity, Paul's focus has been to help make the electricity market more understandable.

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