Shoddy Chinese Steel: Australia the Latest Chump

Why Did South Australia’s Power System Collapse and Blackout?

80% of fabricated steel from China is shoddy and not safe and fails Australian standards…[WTIA]

South Australia Power Outage Spring 2016 Source

South Australia Power Outage Spring 2016

One of the reasons that South Australia suffered a recent grid collapse and blackout is the Chinese power transmission towers that collapsed under very slight load:

The SA Blackout was because the steel lattice towers buckled at just 83 kph. That’s 45 knots which on the Beaufort Wind Scale is rated at being a ‘strong gale’, not even a ‘storm’. They are supposed to have a wind design load of 193 kph or 104 knots. That is more than double the gusts that buckled them.

Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA) says 80% of fabricated steel from China is shoddy and not safe and fails Australian standards.


South Australia’s rush to dependency on volatile wind power is another reason for the recent devastating power blackout. Political correctness strikes again! More

Chinese Steel is the World’s Problem

China is known for its shoddy construction and its disposable cities. Cheap Chinese steel is a large part of the problem. This inferior grade steel has insinuated itself into buildings, bridges, transmission line towers, and other construction across the Anglosphere, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and much of Asia.

Buckling of steel lattice towers happen all the time … in China. In 2007, many transmission lattice towers were buckled during strong wind excitation in Liaoning province, in 2010 five transmission lattice towers collapsed in strong wind in Guangdong province, then in 2013 several more were buckled during Typhoon Fitow in Zhejiang province, including the one below. It’s chinese BAU. Maybe they sent their dodgy towers to SA. __ Shoddy Chinese Steel is World Problem Now

But of course, a lot more structures than power pylons are collapsing due to cheap Chinese steel.

In the specific case of bridges, six have collapsed across China since July 2011. The official Xinhua news agency has acknowledged that shoddy construction and inferior building materials were contributing factors. There is also a cautionary tale much closer to home.

When California bought Chinese steel to renovate and expand the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, for a project that began in 2002, problems like faulty welds by a Chinese steel fabricator delayed the project for months and led to huge cost overruns. Those delays eroded much of the savings California was banking on when it opted for the “cheap” Chinese steel.

… Because of China’s subsidies — most of which are arguably illegal under international trade agreements — its producers are able to dump steel products into America at or below the actual cost of production. This problem is particularly acute now as China is saddled with massive overcapacity in its steel industry. __ Source

And when western buildings, bridges, tunnels, transmission towers, and other construction begins to collapse at the rate of their counterparts in China, perhaps government purchasing departments will begin to think their decisions through more carefully. If not, they can always be disciplined with extreme prejudice if necessary.

Chinese steel fails strength test in New Zealand

But a lot more is at risk besides buildings, bridges, tunnels, towers, highways, and other construction. Most of China’s economy revolves around construction and investment in construction. From huge state-owned enterprises to families and individuals, from regional government officials to shadow banks to Communist Party leaders at the highest rank, China’s economic present and future rest upon shoddy materials, sloppy construction, and slipshod financial arrangements — underwritten by regional and national economies.

Half the buildings currently being built in China are expected to be demolished within 20 years. China is still building ghost cities, which will soon enough be torn down to make way for more ghost cities.

Meanwhile, more and more of the wealth of the Chinese people is being invested in this gigantic scheme of revolving, expanding bubbles.

“Looking at the current average price [of real estate] and personal income in Shenzhen, it would take an average person more than 1,200 months—that is, 100 years—of not eating or drinking to afford a 90 square-meter house,” wrote investor Tang Jun, regarding the unaffordability of Shenzhen real estate.

“China has become an economic power, but the real estate market is a landmine, and the most frightening is that no one knows when it will detonate.” __ Source

Ordinary Chinese people are leveraging their life savings borrowing money to buy apartments in buildings that are unlikely to last 20 years. And the entire crazy cycle of build – demolish – rebuild adds to China’s GDP as if something productive were actually being done. Remind me again why the Chinese currency is so valuable.

Back Around to the South Australian Power Blackout

Yes, shoddy Chinese steel led to power transmission tower collapses, putting stress on the power grid. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the South Australian government’s massive overdependence on intermittent unreliable wind energy. Large surges and dropoffs of power resulting from an over-penetration of intermittent, asynchronous power sources will lead to wild fluctuations in frequency and voltage on the grid. Even if a grid-wide failure does not occur, large monetary losses will accrue to power consumers — particularly industrial consumers.

That is no way to run a state (hint: Jerry Brown). And it is no way to run a country (hint: Angela Merkel). When your construction crumbles and your industry breaks down, you may as well apply for aid from the United Nations as a third world economically dependent state. That is the future for undiscriminating energy planners and careless buyers of steel. The combination of corruption, stupidity, and ideological blinding all threaten the future of the more developed world.

What do you suppose should be done about it?

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2 Responses to Shoddy Chinese Steel: Australia the Latest Chump

  1. ROBERT M SYKES says:

    The underdesign of the towers is worse than you think. The design wind load may be 193 km/h, but the designer would apply a safety factor to that load to account for such things as bad/missing welds, etc, and the actual design computation would assume a load well above 193 km/h.

  2. Mick gois says:

    Admin: Deleted for lack of documentation

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