South Australian blackout: When the lights go out, it’s a sign the electricity grid isn’t working…
ABC News
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“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Chris, I think you might misunderstand the meaning, functioning and significance of ‘asynchronous’ power generation.

  1. Maintaining frequency (50hz in Australia) within tight tolerances on the the grid is certainly critical.
  2. Thermal and large hydro generators are “synchronous” which means the frequency they produce depends on the speed of rotation.
  3. Therefore they are operated at very near constant rotation speed by controlling the flow of steam or water in the turbine.
  4. Wind turbines are subject to fluctuating wind supply, so they can’t rely on a constant rotation speed to maintain the frequency they produce.
  5. Therefore they are designed with various control systems that ensure the variable rotation speed is converted to a stable 50hz supply that can be safely connected to the grid. That is, the rotation speed and the frequency are not synchronised; they are “asynchronous”
  6. The dangerous fluctuations in the frequency on the grid (as seen in SA) are caused not by the asynchronous generation but by the imbalances in supply and demand on the grid.
  7. So, while wind power does present challenges to the grid, it’s not because they are asynchronous generators. Furthermore, they are challenges that will be solved by engineers, not politicians or the political journalists that feed off them.

If my google fu has let me down, I’m happy to be corrected on any of these assertions.

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