Some early comments made about the Generator Report Card


Last Friday 31st May (3 days ago) our Generator Report Card was released – with:

  •  electronic access established to those clients who had previously pre-ordered their copies (and also those who purchased on the day of release).
  • a bonus hard copy was also provided to each client (this was something we’d not initially promised to do, though it became apparent over the 6 months of development, as the report grew to be a 530-page monster, that the hard-copy would be a very useful ready-reference point in the weeks and months into the future (especially the 328 page 10-year statistical digest provided in part 3)).
  • One of the challenges we’ve been grappling with  has been how to convey the breadth, and the depth, of what we’ve done.  As the Report Card came together, we increasingly came to the perspective that it was quite different from anything that had been done beforehand in the NEM – at least to our knowledge.
  • Hence we thought we’d share some of the comments we’ve received that (we think) help to sum up the scale of what’s available to you in this report (and we’re also arranging for informal Q&A sessions in various locations through June and July where you’d be welcome to come in and flip through a copy to see for yourself – more on that at WattClarity shortly).
  • Whilst what we reference below are other people’s words, so may not be 100% reflective of what we’re actually saying in the Report Card (you’ll need to read the Report Card yourself to understand the points of difference), I’ve flagged a few particular points that do help to convey breadth and depth….

(A)  Comments in the general media

On Friday morning, ABC journalist Stephen Letts published an article “National Electricity Market lacks holistic thinking and risks failing to keep the lights on”.  Within this article, what particularly resonated was that:

1a)  Stephen stated it was a 600-page report.  This is entirely understandable, given he was flipping through a bound hard-copy (and with 5 separate parts), it’s not possible to quickly see how many pages are therein.  However given we’d invested thousands of hours and agonised on trying to ensure that the data we were using was correct, and that we were correctly interpreting it as much as possible, I’ve felt it necessary to clarify that it’s “only” 530 pages all-up.

1b)  In discussion that’s followed subsequently on social media (personally I only use LinkedIn and Twitter, so have not checked elsewhere) there’s been some inferring that the report is focused on government policy, market structure and regulation – and, whilst there is discussion there, we’ve consciously tried to write from the perspective of helping individual organisations (participants in the wholesale market – particularly new entrants, and also organisations on the outside providing services to these wholesale participants) identify opportunities and risks for their businesses.

1c)  Thanks also to Stephen for the comment here on Twitter impressive & important work on the NEM … get a copy if you’re an energy policy wonk” – though I’d add that I hope it’s particularly useful to those who don’t have their “wonk-o-meters” dialled all the way up to 11.

By Friday afternoon, Giles Parkinson over at RenewEconomy had published his own synopsis of some of what jumped out to him for his readers in “Energy transition has only just begun, but solar has already changed the game”.  In this case, what particularly jumped out to us was:

2a)  First and foremost what jumped out was Giles noting that what we have delivered was “unique” (which, it seems to us, it is) and that “It is, literally, a mine of information (which was our intention when we started the process around October 2018.  Giles notes “More stories will inevitably emerge over time as we digest the data-rich pages”, so we will watch with interest to see what else resonates.

2b)  Given that new entrants, which RenewEconomy speaks directly to, was one of the audiences we envisaged would gain value from the Report Card, it was particularly of interest to us to see what was selected in this first article:

(i)  First was a comment about rooftop PV and declining demand – clearly one factor that’s growing in reduction of “grid supply”.   Given that I’d already posted this back in 2011, would be useful to link in this longer list of factors that have contributed to the change in consumption patterns – but also caution, as we do in the Report Card, not to assume that this “grid supply” is continuing to decline.

(ii)  Second was the note Giles made that “The number of coal trips in the NEM – a source of consternation for the market operator and analysts alike – are actually significantly lower than the were a decade ago.  In fact, over the last five years, they have been reasonably consistently inconsistent at around 200 trips a year (down from a peak near 300 in 2004, and between 2007 and 2009).”.  This was made with respect to this image from the report:

2019-05-31-GeneratorReportCard-Fig4-31

Note that Part 4 of the report contains a detailed (38 page) discussion about coal, given it’s still such a large share of the energy mix – and includes consideration of different aspects of what we term different aspects of what we call “the dependability” of coal (using this framework).  Give the detail of the coverage in the Report Card, it’s not possible to comment more here in relation to other aspects of how coal unit performance is a little different than what some might have believed beforehand based (some results surprised us).

(iii)  Giles also included a comment about how we’ve taken a deeper look at the degree of anti-correlation apparent in the data across the NEM for three scenarios:
Group 1 = all operational wind and solar plant (operational data 24×7)
Group 2 = operational solar plant (operational data, just daylight hours); and
Group 3 = wind patterns by Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) over 11 years of history.

… in order to see how much anti-correlation we could see (we describe in the Report Card under a Part 2 Theme called “when ‘the sun does not shine and wind does not blow’’” why this is the ultimate objective we’d be striving for to reduce the cost of the transition).  Giles included this figure of a sample week in the NSW region which did show a degree of anti-correlation between wind and solar – one waxing whilst the other waning:

2019-05-31-GeneratorReportCard-Fig2-27

On Monday morning, we noted that Peter Hannam in the Sydney Morning Herald had written about “National electricity market becoming riskier as stresses mount: report”, and highlighted what we’d noted in the Generator Report Card about several things:

3a)  The NEM becoming a higher risk environment, not the least of which because of increased dependence on the weather, in a number of different ways; and

3b)  How we’ve included some consideration of several factors about the exit of thermal plant (which we’ve noted is something that’s not really been given the considered attention it deserves – and we’re not just meaning here in general planning documents, but also from a new entry business development perspective).

 

(B)  Comments on social media

As we all know, social media is a bit of a minefield, with a diverse range of views expressed there (with respect to the energy transition) coming from people at all points of the Emotion-o-meter.

Given the profile of the Report Card, it was expected that there’s be a bit of commentary about it in different quarters – what follows is a very brief not about some particular comments we noted:

1)  I noted somewhere (can’t remember where) that it was mistakenly claimed that the report was commissioned by the AEMO and/or some government – it wasn’t clear in my reading which organisation was supposed to have commissioned it.  Let me be clear that the Generator Report Card was certainly NOT the case that the AEMO, or any Government, or anyone else, commissioned the report.
(a)  Indeed Stephen Letts here was very clear in faithfully nothing that “The report was not sponsored by an organisation or interest group, nor does it take sides on fuel type or technology, but was prepared for commercial energy users and industry analysts.” so I am not really sure where that author mistakenly inferred that idea from?
(b)  The Report Card is deliberately, and definitely, independent of any of the combined clients across the two collaborating organisations (Global-Roam and Greenview Strategic Consulting).

2)  The above just seemed to typify the general problem with social media, in that many people seemed to be commenting on the Report Card itself without having read it, and merely just reading through the articles on ABC or RenewEconomy or SMH above (each of which do contain some of the general ideas in the Report Card itself – though there are some findings lost in translation):
(a)  One of the underlying failings that we’ve tried to emphasize in the Report Card is that the shallowness of the level of thinking surrounding this energy transition (particularly at both extremes of the Emotion-o-meter) is one of the main reasons why we spoke about train-wreck coming down the line at us.
(b)  Somehow misconstruing (or perhaps just misrepresenting, for unknown purpose) that the report was commissioned by particular parties just typifies that…

3)  For those of you who follow “energy Twitter”, we’ve tried to tag comments that have come in with #GeneratorReportCard2018 so as to make them accessible later.  These might be useful to our readers.

4)  Over on LinkedIn, we’ve used the same #GeneratorReportCard2018 tag and expect that the references will build up more slowly over time there.

5)  We don’t particularly follow, or use, any other platform – hence can’t help with any of the others…

 

(C)  Comments direct from clients

In the 7-month gestation period that occurred for the Generator Report Card, we appreciated the opportunity offer those who showed keen interest in the product (even from late 2018 when it had only started coming together) the chance to get their pre-orders in early at “early bird” pricing.

These clients received access to the Generator Report Card on Friday, with most also receiving their hard copies on that day as well.  Those who ordered on the day itself received electronic access, and should receive their hard copies this week.

A number of points of feedback were submitted, with some particularly resonating in terms of the the breadth, and the depth, so we thought we’d share some briefly here … with details client details anonymised:

1)  One client (a newish entrant generator) made the comment that “Thank you, this is amazing!  You have dramatically reduced productivity in the office with everyone trawling through it, which did give both Jonathon Dyson and myself a chuckle, and also noted that “the hard copy did turn up – and is now on the table in our lunch room”, which does seem a logical place for the hard copy (especially if you understand how the office functions), as we see numerous people flipping through the document, particularly the statistical digest in Part 3, whilst waiting for their coffee in the weeks and months ahead.

2)  Another client (another generator) noted“Hard copy has arrived.  It’s so good to actually hold it in my hands to feel how much work has gone into this.  A pdf does not convey the immensity of the work you have done.” .  It’s nice to hear that, as we certainly came to the view that a hard-copy would be more useful long-term in terms of quick access to certain parts of the Report Card (we’re already finding that in our conversations).

3)  A third client noted“What a rich resource!  I look forward to exploring it over coming weeks.”   For us, it’s nice to get to this end of our process, as there was certainly a share of blood, sweat and tears in putting it together in recent months – and we would particularly like to thank our pre-existing clients for being so patient with us whilst we were (in some senses) distracted with the Report Card.

4)  Given that they’re a client who received their copy on Friday, this public tweet by Flow Power Great read…” is worth referencing as a general point of feedback on the Report Card.

5)  Also able to flag the “great report, very useful” comment from Samantha Christie inside the NSW Department Planning and Environment.

6)  After first glancing through the copy that was delivered to another of our clients they noted “At first glance it looks like you guys have done a fantastic job! ” .  They have promised more feedback after digesting, and we look forward to that.

7)  Another comment “Will need to make the time to read it / do it justice reflects, to us, the size and scope of what we have delivered.

8)  Another client noted “We received a hard copy in the post today, so fantastic service! ” – which seems to be essentially a comment about the addition of the hard-copy report, despite the fact that it was not originally promised to those who ordered early (but is now, for those who order now).

9)  One academic who received his copy noted “very much look forward to working through what looks like an incredibly detailed and valuable set of reports and tools”.

10)  A client in another government department noted “It looks great, a terrific layout, and I have shared it with colleagues”.  We’ll look forward to more feedback from them.

… and we could go on, but the above should provide some indication of initial response from those who ordered in advance and so received their copies on Friday last week.  Many of the comments could be summed up as “Wow!”.

 

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Don’t forget that you can order your copy here today.

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.

1 Comment on "Some early comments made about the Generator Report Card"

  1. Don’t worry Paul, in a former life, my organisation stated that there were 5.3m too many which got rounded up to “nearly 6m”

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