South Australia Blackout Dec-01 2016

This post presents the electricity data for South Australia (SA) for the days leading up to a localised blackout that occurred there in the early hours of 1st December 2016. The data suggests that there was an interruption to the supply of around 200 MW via the Heywood interconnector with Victoria, with no obvious cause within South Australia.

The following figure shows SA wind power for the 10 days leading up to December 1st, separated into 3 groups, corresponding to the 3 clusters of wind farms in the state:


Wind power was very low at the time of the blackout (just to the right of the 31-line in the figure above, which represents 10 minutes past midnight AEDT, 1st December), but such wind power lulls are very common in SA, as the figure above suggests. See the previous post for more wind power history, showing that daily wind power lulls are the rule rather than the exception.

The following two figures show the various contributions to electricity supply for the 29th and 30th November, extending 1.5 hours into the following day:



There is no obvious cause within SA of the loss of supply from the Heywood interconnector shown on the second figure. Note that the sudden rise in consumption (the black curve) shortly before midnight is a regular event caused by domestic water heating.


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1 Response to South Australia Blackout Dec-01 2016

  1. Greg Kaan says:

    I have only seen this mentioned on a couple of web sites and not in any media “analysis” of this recent partial blackout.

    In the past, South Australia could have prevented the damage to the Alcoa smelter (and made a tidy profit) by supplying Portland with exports via the Heywood Interconnector, even if only at a maintenance level to keep the pot lines warm on a rotation basis. Instead, the South Australian grid was unable to self supply, let alone provide external support services.

    The South Australian attitude has been so self-concerned with their needs alone that their ability (or rather lack thereof) to provide support to interstate users has been totally ignored. Just another utter failing for the renewables transition and a display of the fallacy that dispersed renewable generation will increase resilience of grids – especially since there are also wind farms in the Portland vicinity.


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