Base Load Electrical Power – Introduction And The Permanent Link To The Data For Australia – Updated With Image For Base Load

Posted on Sat 07/15/2017 by


By Anton Lang ~

Permanent link to Australian weekly Base Load data

What is Base Load Power?

For so long now, those two words have been used as just the one word, baseload, and that one word is now almost solely used to describe coal fired power plants as baseload plants, and it is used in this manner in a way that is totally incorrect.

The Base Load is two words and it is the minimum level of electrical power consumption on a daily basis. That level is the lowest level that power consumption gets down to, and it never falls below that amount except for one day a year, Christmas Day, when it is slightly lower.

That lowest point of power consumption is what should be correctly termed as the Base Load.

This is easily seen when you look at Load Curves for power consumption.


I was asked in a comment to add an image which best signifies what that Base Load really is, and that is this image below, and this is for a typical Winter Load Curve, as indicated by the dual peaks on the Curve in the AM and the PM. If you click on the image, it will open in a new page, and a larger size image.

Again, note the time scale across the bottom, showing the hours in the day from Midnight through the day, and back to Midnight. The left side vertical scale shows the total power in MegaWatts. (MW) This is a typical Winter Load Curve and is from Australia,

I have drawn a black line horizontally across the page at the 18000MW mark.

All the power below that solid line at 18000MW, well that is the Base Load.

I have added the colours to indicate that most of that power, the pink colour is generated and delivered by coal fired power plants. The Blue colour above that line is the added power required to cover all consumption up to the daily Peaks. While I have coloured it as blue, to differentiate it from the Base Load, most of that power also is provided from coal fired power plants. See the shape of the actual curve. Well, coal fired power provides power in a manner which closely follows the actual shape of the main Curve itself, from a minimum of around 15000MW to 16000MW at that 4AM mark, up to 20000MW and more during that main evening Peak, which is at 6PM. (shown as 18:00 on this image)

I have added a further light blue colour along the bottom of this image. This indicates the supply from Wind Power, and while some of you may think that I have deliberately made this small, this ACTUALLY is all that wind power provides. At the current time, the total Nameplate for Wind Power in Australia is 4500MW, but because wind power is so variable, the yearly average delivery, quoted as the Capacity Factor, is only 30%, so 30% of 4500MW is only 1350MW, and that is why that blue colour is so small, and as you can see here, I have made it as close as possible to that 1350MW mark, also with a horizontal line across the page. On some days that power delivery is more, and on some days it can be less, and considerably less, hence the reason I have used the year round average to show what wind power delivers on a daily basis.


Since electrical power has started to be used, that total power consumption can be shown by Load Curves, and below are two examples of Load Curves, and you’ll see that they look slightly different, and that is because power consumption differs from Season to Season.

These load curves are similar in nature for towns, for cities, for Capital cities, for regions, and for States, as well as for an overall Country. The two examples I have shown below are for Australia as a whole and as you can see, they vary from Season to Season. The top one is for Summer, and the lower one is for Winter, and these are typical for every area I mentioned above.

Note the time scale along the bottom of each graph, and you can see it starts at Midnight, and goes through the day and back to Midnight. Note the time when it is at its lowest, and that is around 4AM, for both Summer and Winter.

Now, look up the left side vertical axis, and that is the amount of power being consumed in MegaWatts. (MW)

You can now see that the lowest point it reaches is 18,000MW and that’s at around that same time each day, 4AM. So, when almost everyone is tucked up asleep in bed, Australia is still consuming 18,000MW of power. That is the minimum power consumption. If you were to draw a horizontal line across the page at this 18,000MW level, that minimum power requirement is the absolute level of power to keep everything that consumes electrical power going.

That is the Base Load.

While those two images show Load Curves for Australia, as I mentioned, they are the same for everywhere on Planet Earth where electrical power is generated for consumption, and as an example go to this link. This is for the State of California, and if you scroll down to the second image it shows the Load Curve for the previous day, and depending on the Season when you are looking at this image, it resembles one or the other of the above two load curves for Australia. Note the minimum on this load curve for California, and you can see it is 25,000MW, so just the State of California is consuming more power than the whole of Australia.

I haven’t selectively picked these two Australian graphs because of that 18000MW number, because they are the same all year round. That absolute amount of power at its lowest level is always around that 18,000MW.

If that huge amount of electrical power was not actually being generated and delivered to the grids across Australia, the Country would be blacked out.

That power is required and required ABSOLUTELY. It cannot be allowed to fall below that level.

Here in Australia, that huge amount of power is supplied by coal fired power. We have no Nuclear Power Plants, like they have in the U.S. and in some other Countries, so that coal fired power is all we have. That level of power cannot be supplied by Renewables either, because that huge amount is required across the whole 24 hour period, and renewable power cannot supply that dedicated amount of power on that full 24 hour basis.

So, to actually show this, I am going to detail the power consumption on a daily basis, and show the results for each day for the previous week in a weekly Post.

The major Australian grids cover five States, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, all States east of the Western Australian border, and this almost covers the whole of Australia.

List of Coal Fired Power Plants in Australia. (All Plants are Sub Critical, unless otherwise stated)

There are no coal fired power plants in either of the two States of South Australia (SA) and Tasmania. (Tas)

New South Wales (NSW)

Bayswater – 2640MW (4 Units)

Eraring – 2820MW (4 Units)

Liddell – 2000MW (4 Units)

Mount Piper – 1400MW (2 Units)

Vales Point – 1320MW (2 Units)          TOTAL NSW – 5 Power Plants – 10180MW (16 Units)

Queensland (Qld)

Callide A and B – 730MW (3 Units)

Callide C – 840MW (2 Units) – SuperCritical

Gladstone – 1680MW (6 Units)

Kogan Creek – 744MW (1 Unit) – SuperCritical

Milmerran – 852MW (2 Units) – SuperCritical

Stanwell – 1460MW (4 Units)

Tarong North – 443MW (1 Unit) – SuperCritical

Tarong – 1400MW (4 Units)          TOTAL QLD – 8 Power Plants – 8149MW (23 Units)

Victoria (Vic) (All Victorian plants burn Brown Coal)

Loy Yang A – 2210MW (4 Units)

Loy Yang B – 1000MW (2 Units)

Yallourn W – 1480MW (4 Units)          TOTAL VIC – 3 Power Plants – 4690MW (10 Units)

TOTAL AUSTRALIA – 16 Power Plants – 23019MW (49 Units)

Each week you will see the daily breakdown for that lowest level of power in Each of those five States, the total for all that Australian area, the amount of power delivered from fossil fuels, (both of coal fired power and natural gas fired power) the total delivered by Hydro, and by wind power, adding these last two together to give a total percentage of the whole amount delivered by renewables, and also the total power delivered by just those coal fired power plants in each State, in total, and also as a percentage of the total on an Australia wide basis.

This will conclusively show that Australia cannot do without coal fired power, and also that renewables, especially wind power will never be able to deliver these huge amounts of power.

For references, I have used the Australian Market Regulator, the AEMO for each State’s absolute requirement and the site which details wind power, and which also indicates hydro, fossil fuel power, and coal fired power on a plant by plant basis, and those references are as follows:

Total Power consumption for each State

Fossil Fuel totals and Coal Fired power totals

Hydro Power totals

Wind Power totals

This data I am detailing shows a snapshot in time at 4AM every morning, the time when power consumption is at its minimum, and if you still think that this is not all that important, keep in mind that no matter where this Base Load data comes from, and this one is from Australia, that Base Load is between 60 and 65% of every watt of power being consumed on a daily basis, for 24 hours of every day.

It cannot be taken away, because without that huge amount of power, then Australia would just shut down.

Here in Australia, only coal fired power can supply that huge amount of power.

Permanent link to Australian weekly Base Load data

Anton Lang uses the screen name of TonyfromOz, and he writes at this site, PA Pundits International on topics related to electrical power generation, from all sources, concentrating mainly on Renewable Power, and how the two most favoured methods of renewable power generation, Wind Power and all versions of Solar Power, fail comprehensively to deliver levels of power required to replace traditional power generation. His Bio is at this link.