Victoria became power importer in January 2019 heatwave

Victoria-20-26Jan2019Fig 1: 7 days power generation in Victoria (screenshot from the Open NEM website)

In order to understand the above graph we have to know how Excel is dealing with negative stacked areas. Exports (lilac) are negative (below the horizontal axis). But you can’t see them because they are covered up by brown coal generation which is stacked on top the previous (negative) area. In effect, exports are deducted from brown coal before it becomes available for the State’s generation (above the horizontal axis). In contrast, imports (dark violet) are added to local generation. So we see that exports turned into imports during 2 hot days (24/25 Jan 2019).

Victoria-brown-coal-17-26Jan2019Fig 2: Victoria brown coal generation

Energy Australia’s Yallourn power plant was running on 3 out of 4 generators – one down for scheduled maintenance (one may ask why scheduled maintenance was done in the peak demand season). AGL’s Loy Yang A power station was taken offline due to a tube leak.

On 26 Jan 2019 Victoria’s brown coal generation was still down to 2.9 GW compared to a usual output of 4.3 GW

Victoria_available_brown_coal_generationFig 3: Victoria’s brown coal plants (nameplate 4,660 MW)

Victoria-17-26Jan2019Fig 4: OCGT = open cycle gas turbines

Victoria_available_OCGT_generationFig 5: Available generation of OCGT in Victoria

Victoria-Gas-Steam-17-26Jan2019Fig 6: Newport D gas plant 510 MW

Victoria-Hydro-17-26Jan2019Fig 7: Victoria hydro power generation

Victoria_available_Hydro_generationFig 8: Victoria hydro power available generation

Victoria-Exports-Imports-17-26Jan2019Fig 9: Victoria power imports & exports

Victoria turned from power exporter to importer

VIC_price-demand_24-25Jan2019Fig 10: Spot prices on the 24th (actual, left) and 25th (estimated, right)

VIC_price-demand_25Jan2019Fig 11: Spot prices on 25th (actual, left) and 26th (estimated, right)

VIC_electricity-demand-prices_17-26Jan2019Fig 12: Victoria electricity demand and prices

On both the 24th and 25th Victorian demand exceeded 9,000MW. The average price excluding the price spikes were around $150/MWh. The price spikes lasting over 7 hrs lifted that average price tag to over $500/MWh for the period 17 Jan – 25 Jan.

Impact on NSW

New South Wales is energy guzzler #1 in Australia. It utterly depends on power imports from Queensland and Victoria.

NSW power imports in January 2019 heatwave exceed 2 GW, drive up electricity prices

NSW_price-demand_25Jan2019Fig 13: NSW demand and price curves for 24 th (actual) and 25 th (estimated)

Temps_22-28Jan2019_NSW-VICFig 14: Temperatures curves for NSW and Victoria

On the 24th and 25th maximum temperatures in NSW were only 27.1 degrees and 28.3 degrees respectively. NSW power demand for the 24th was comparatively low at 10,800 MW.
VIC-NSW_power-demand_17-26Jan2019Fig 15: Victoria-NSW demand curves

But on the 25th NSW had a demand of 13,200 MW at 5 pm. But by that time Victorian demand was already down to 8,300 MW because of a Southerly change which had started at 1:30 pm.
VIC_NSW_power-demand_17-26Jan2019Fig 16: Victoria-NSW demand (stacked)

Nevertheless, the system was tested. Queensland – where maximum temperatures are always around 30 degrees but where there are no extreme heatwaves as in the South East – had to export almost 1,400 MW to NSW from 3 pm to 8 pm.

Qld-power-exports-to-NSW_24-25Jan2019Fig 17: Queensland’s power exports 24-25th January


It is only a matter of time until load shedding is required – under a combination of heatwaves in NSW, Victoria and South Australia, a breakdown of one or more of the aging coal fired power plants and/or interconnectors reaching inter State transmission limits. Governments should not plan new electricity hungry projects like high rises, airports etc. which cater for a high immigration program. And while power supplies are insecure energy-illiterate planners are fantasizing about turning Melbourne into an “Asian mega city”:

green-spine-2Melbourne fantasy projects