Noteworthy analysis of the state-wide blackout across South Australia on 28th September 2017

Bruce Miller’s post on WattClarity today has prompted me to put this record together this listing of reference materials relating directly to the South Australian blackout of 28th September 2016.  As more materials come to hand (or are identified by some of our readers) I will seek to keep this update – though it might be sporadic.

(A)  Coverage on WattClarity

Click through here for a fuller list of articles that have been posted in this particular category.  Of particular note are the following:

Date Report or Publication
28th September 2016 Very late on the day, I posted this animation (using ez2view) of what I could see that had happened.  At the time I noted that I would post more analysis later on WattClarity – but have not had the time.

(B)  Reports from the AEMO

In the table below, I have linked (in chronological order) to the main reports published by the AEMO analysing what happened in the blackout – the causes, the consequences, and recommendations aimed at reducing the risk of it happening again:

Date Report or Publication from the AEMO
5th October 2016 Only a week after the incident, AEMO published a Preliminary operating incident Report:
1)  Here’s the HTML note.
2)  Here a direct link to the PDF report (referencing information as at 3rd October 2016).  This report was only 31 pages in length, so 1/10 of the final size.
19th October 2016 2 weeks later, AEMO published an update – in its Second Preliminary Report:
1)  AEMO published this update to the first report.
2)  Here’s the PDF.
12th December 2016 Just under 3 months from the incident, the AEMO published some preliminary recommendations in a Third Preliminary Report:
1)  The HTML note is here; whilst
2)  The PDF is linked directly here (referenced to information collated as at 7th December 2016).
28th March 2017 5 months after the incident, AEMO published its Final Report:
1)  The HTML note is here; whilst
2)  Direct link to the PDF “Black System – South Australia 28th September 2016” is here (now up at 273 pages).

(C)   Finkel Review

The “Finkel Review” was set up following the blackout, but has a broader scope than just analysing this particular incident.  For completeness it is listed below:

Date Report or Publication
14th December 2016 On the 14th December 2016, a preliminary report was published:
1)  HTML reference is here.
2)  The PDF report (66 pages) is linked directly here.  This Erratum was also published.  See the Case Study on page 31
Currently A range of records being related to the Finkel Review are being assembled here on the Department of Environment & Energy website.
Future When the final report is published (not sure when?) I will link it in here.

(D)   From the AER

Thanks to Allan’s comment (below) I have started the listing here:

Date Report or Publication from the AER
3rd March 2017 As Allan noted in his comment (below) on 30th March, the AER Quarterly Compliance report talks about certain investigations being completed – some of which relate to the SA blackout:
1)  Website page is here.
2)  Direct link to PDF document is here.

See, in particular, p23 (section 2.4.1) where the AER talks about their responsibilities in terms of reviewing:
1)  Pre-event
2)  Event
3)  System Restoration; and
4)  Market suspension.


(E)   From the AEMC

Thanks to Allan’s comment (below) I have started the listing here:

Date Report or Publication from the AEMC
6th January 2017 As Allan noted in his comment (below), the AEMC initiated their “Review of the System Black Event in South Australia on 28 September 2016″ (REF EPR0057).

I’ve directly linked the Terms of Reference, provided by the COAG Energy Council.  As Allan has noted the date for the AEMC report is 6 months after the completion of both:
1)  the AEMO’s investigation report (28 March 2017 – above); and
2)  the AER’s compliance report (not released yet, but will be linked above).
This currently means not before September 2017, I think.

As more substantial documentation is provided, I will include below…

(F)   Miscellaneous Reporting

There’s many pages of commentary (or Mb electronically) that’s been published – when I notice something significant that I want to keep a ready reference to, I’ll add it to a table below….

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  1. Allan O'Neil
    Posted Thu, 30 March 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink


    A couple of items for (D) and (E) above:

    The AER refers to its ongoing review of regulatory compliance related to multiple aspects of the Black System event in its Q4 2016 quarterly compliance report:

    The AEMC has outlined the process for its review – see – however they apparently won’t start until the AER finishes (whenever that may be), and will then take a further 6 months.


  2. Ian
    Posted Wed, 5 April 2017 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Ever since I’ve become addicted to watching AEMO’s NEM Dispatch overview, I’ve come to a few conclusions rightly or wrongly;
    1) SA spot price appears to be consistently higher than a number of States and almost always higher than Qld to a significant extent
    2) the contribution towards meeting the power demand in SA by wind turbines is surprisingly poor given all the political hype. It appears highly variable and unpredictable (unsurprisingly) and at times reaching extraordinarily low levels.
    3) associated with 2) above, there seems to be a high reliance on the interconnectors with Victoria to supply “coal fueled”) power into SA thus challenging the notion that SA thrives on “green” power.
    4) it appears that SA would be in all sorts of trouble if it were not for the ready availability of power from Victoria
    5) it appears that due to the relatively low amount of synchronous generation along with various other generation issues, the Heywood interconnector is subject to unhelpful constraints at some crucial times
    6) power flows to and from Tasmania together with the constraints applied to Basslink don’t seem to make a lot of sense sometimes when considering the value of premium energy stored in Tasmania especially when Tasmania has been experiencing unusually low rainfalls in the past year or so. It seems that the temptation to make some opportunistic profits because of the price differentials between Tasmania and the mainland might be just too much.

    Are my observations reasonable or am I missing some vital clues ?

  3. Malcolm M
    Posted Tue, 11 April 2017 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Re point 2, the contribution of wind is higher in winter than summer, and higher for the newer wind farms such as Hornsdale that has a higher hub height. Hornsdale has averaged a capacity factor of 41% since the start of January, and most new-build wind will be like this. Once there is more large-scale solar in SA, this will partially balance wind output, being higher in summer and under high pressure cells, and lower as lows pass over with their windy conditions.

    Re point 3, now that Hazelwood is closed, Engie’s Pelican Point has been operating at higher capacity factors, leading to much more frequent exports from SA to Vic. This is the most efficient gas power station in SA/Vic. Until about February, most of the load balancing in Vic was from the Snowy. Now it is Mortlake (gas) that seems to be doing some of the load balancing, and some from Newport (gas). The coal generators generally run at close to 100% or not at all (when down for maintenance).

    Re point 5, the Heywood inter-connector seems to have much more than its fair share of problems. For example, last Sunday (9 April), export from SA was limited to ~290 MW from 11:35 until 15:00 on Sunday 9 April during a time of high wind output. This caused SA prices to crash to minus $45/MWh over most of this period. At other times of the day, export from SA was never more than 500 MW, and SA prices held up well. Supposedly the inter-connector has an export capacity of 650 MW via Heywood and 220 MW via Murraylink, totalling 870 MW, under a project that finished in March 2017.

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