Australian Base Load Electrical Power – Week Ending 16th September 2017

Posted on Sat 09/16/2017 by

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By Anton Lang ~

This is the continuing Post, where each Saturday, I will detail the power consumption for the Base Load in Australia for the previous week. This will show what is actually meant by the term Base Load, and that is the minimum daily power consumption at its lowest point. Power consumption never falls below this point.

Here in Australia, that level of power is 18,000MW.

The Bayswater Coal Fired Power Plant In New South Wales

This data I have collated below is for this last week, and is for the five States connected to the Australian grids, every State east of the Western Australian border, and here I will show that data for each of those five States, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania.

As you can see from these numbers, that huge amount of power is being supplied mainly by coal fired power, and on most days that coal fired power provides 80% or more of that level of power, at that time, when power consumption is at its lowest level, that total of 18,000MW.

All of this data is taken at a single point in time, and that is at 4AM of every day, when nearly all of us are sound asleep.

For the Introduction and background for this Base Load, refer back to the original Post at this link.

This is the permanent link to all the Posts with the data from each week.

For the purposes of this data, the sources are as follows.

Total Power consumption for each State

Fossil Fuel totals and Coal Fired power totals

Hydro Power totals

Wind Power totals

All these totals are from 4AM on each day, the time of minimum power consumption.

There are no coal fired power plants in South Australia or in Tasmania.

*****

Sunday 10th September 2017

New South Wales – 6340MW (Coal Fired Power – 4300MW)

Queensland – 4930MW (Coal Fired Power – 5800MW)

Victoria – 4150MW (Coal Fired Power – 4300MW)

South Australia – 1080MW

Tasmania – 1130MW

Total – 17630MW

Fossil Fuel – 16000MW (Total coal fired power – 14400MW  – 81.7% of the overall total of 17630MW)

Hydro – 1300MW

Wind – 400MW (2.3% of the total)

Renewable power – 9.6% of the total.

Sunday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24830MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18100MW (72.9%)

Monday 11th September 2017

New South Wales – 6480MW (Coal Fired Power – 3900MW)

Queensland – 5050MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 3870MW (Coal Fired Power – 4300MW)

South Australia – 980MW

Tasmania – 1110MW

Total – 17490MW

Fossil Fuel – 15000MW (Total coal fired power – 13900MW  – 79.5% of the overall total of 17490MW)

Hydro – 600MW

Wind – 2400MW (13.7% of the total)

Renewable power – 17.1% of the total.

Monday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25870MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18300MW (70.7%)

Tuesday 12th September 2017

New South Wales – 6350MW (Coal Fired Power – 4000MW)

Queensland – 5130MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 4190MW (Coal Fired Power – 4700MW)

South Australia – 1060MW

Tasmania – 1120MW

Total – 17850MW

Fossil Fuel – 16000MW (Total coal fired power – 14400MW  – 80.7% of the overall total of 17850MW)

Hydro – 1000MW

Wind – 800MW (4.5% of the total)

Renewable power – 10.1% of the total.

Tuesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25610MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18200MW (71.1%)

Wednesday 13th September 2017

New South Wales – 6000MW (Coal Fired Power – 3600MW)

Queensland – 5030MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Victoria – 4020MW (Coal Fired Power – 4300MW)

South Australia – 920MW

Tasmania – 1150MW

Total – 17120MW

Fossil Fuel – 14500MW (Total coal fired power – 13500MW  – 78.9% of the overall total of 17120MW)

Hydro – 800MW

Wind – 2400MW (14% of the total)

Renewable power – 18.7% of the total.

Wednesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25950MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18300MW (70.5%)

Thursday 14th September 2017

New South Wales – 6090MW (Coal Fired Power – 3600MW)

Queensland – 5090MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 4310MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

South Australia – 1020MW

Tasmania – 1110MW

Total – 17620MW

Fossil Fuel – 14500MW (Total coal fired power – 13900MW  – 78.9% of the overall total of 17620MW)

Hydro – 1100MW

Wind – 2500MW (14.2% of the total)

Renewable power – 20.4% of the total.

Thursday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 26440MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 68.8MW (%)

Friday 15th September 2017

New South Wales – 6340MW (Coal Fired Power – 4100MW)

Queensland – 5340MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 4130MW (Coal Fired Power – 4300MW)

South Australia – 1000MW

Tasmania – 1030MW

Total – 17840MW

Fossil Fuel – 15400MW (Total coal fired power – 14100MW  – 79% of the overall total of 17840MW)

Hydro – 1400MW

Wind – 2000MW (11.2% of the total)

Renewable power – 19% of the total.

Friday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25150MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18200MW (72.4%)

Saturday 16th September 2017

New South Wales – 6090MW (Coal Fired Power – 3600MW)

Queensland – 5050MW (Coal Fired Power – 5800MW)

Victoria – 3760MW (Coal Fired Power – 3500MW)

South Australia – 950MW

Tasmania – 1130MW

Total – 16980MW

Fossil Fuel – 14000MW (Total coal fired power – 12900MW  – 76% of the overall total of 16980MW)

Hydro – 1350MW

Wind – 2300MW (13.5% of the total)

Renewable power – 21.5% of the total.

Saturday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24030MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17200MW (71.6%)

*****

This Week’s Average For Base Load – 17504MW

This Week’s Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 13872MW – 79.3%

Running Weekly Average For Base Load – 18226MW

Running Weekly Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14740MW – 80.9%

*****

Comments For This Last Week

It’s been interesting to watch as the Base Load decreases ever so slightly as we move out of Winter (here in Australia) and into the Month or two of more benign weather, before the warmer Months start to kick in again, and because it isn’t so cold, that early morning Base Load number falls a little as less heating is required in the home, and then at work as well. Even so, with a drop of almost 500MW in that Base Load, that average for the week is still only 2.3% lower than the running average, and while it has fallen slightly, that figure of 17504MW is still a very high amount of power being consumed. Those late afternoon, early evening peaks are also slightly less as well.

Another thing that adds to the lowering of the minimum power, and also the peaks, is that some of the major Industries and manufacturing have either shut down operations, or are cutting back on the work they do, and that is mainly due to the very high cost of electricity. You think of electricity costs as being high when you look at the most recent power bill for what you consume in your own home, but what needs to be realised here is that while the cost structure for power being consumed is similar in the three sectors of consumption, the amounts of power used are considerably higher for Industry and Commerce than they are for the Residential sector. The average power consumption in the Commerce Sector is around 16 times that of the Residential, and in the Industrial Sector, the average power consumption is up close to 90 to 100 times higher than it is in the Residential Sector. Think  of that Commercial Sector and imagine what the power bill might be for a local Woolworths, Coles, or Aldi Supermarket with their vast banks of cool and cold storage, both in the general public area and also out the back. With respect to Industry, there are small and large operations, so with the average up around 100 times that of your home power bill, there must be some Industries with monumentally huge power bills, and with the cost of electricity doubling in recent times, that impost is a huge addition to their bottom line. I was reading earlier in the week that a large Aluminium smelter (and Australia has three Smelters, two of them large ones) would need access to 900MW of power all the time, so their average power bill would be monumentally huge by comparison, so even a small reduction in their power consumption would see a huge drop in the cost for electricity that they pay.

With the slight lowering in power consumption across most of Australia, some of those power plant operators would be scheduling maintenance for their Units, and that has proved to be the case this week.

Four Units in NSW are off line, along with four Units in Queensland, and three Units in Victoria, all of them off line at the time I checked most recently. That’s 11 Units down, and there are only 49 Units across Australia, so that’s more than one unit in five off line. That amounts to an overall total Nameplate of 4890MW, and that’s more than a fifth of all of Australia’s coal fired total Nameplate power. Because a lot of those Units are off line, power generation from the remaining Units is now regularly consistent, mostly close to its maximum, and it has moved away from its load following capability, which is easily seen when all those Units are actually on line, as the market operator controls their output so that it does follow the Load relatively closely.

Wind power had five relatively good days, and two days when it was really low, and that’s the whole point really. You never know when it will be good or bad, highlighting the intermittency of wind power, and how you just cannot rely on it to be there for when you actually need it. Even when wind power is generating as good as it gets, that power still only comes in at 14% of the absolute minimum requirement, so, even if it could be relied on to generate at that level all the time, there would need to be more than seven times the existing Nameplate, and even then, there will be days when even that huge amount of Nameplate will only be generating five to ten percent of what is actually required to keep Australia actually running normally.

I mentioned the example of South Australia last week, and it’s worthwhile looking at that State again, even though their power consumption is only around 6.2% of the Australian total. Currently, they have restricted their wind power generation to around 1200MW, and are also running their gas fired plants so that there is always power readily available at the grid, lessening the chances of the grid failing in that State and causing blackouts. (and keep in mind here that this State has no coal fired power plants) Even when wind power is doing well in that State with the largest concentration of wind power, those gas fired plants are continually generating close to two thirds of the States’ needs, even at that point in time when power consumption is at its lowest point, varying between 600MW, and then up to 1300MW and sometimes even more during the morning and afternoon Peaks from those gas fired plants, so while that State likes to tout itself as clean and green, almost two thirds of its power is still coming from fossil fuelled sources.

Again, it was still an interesting exercise to watch the sharing of power between the States, with NSW being the State with the biggest problem at the moment. Queensland has been running its coal fired plants at close to their maximum, feeding around 1100MW into NSW at almost all times, only lowering it slightly at that 4AM time. Victoria was also feeding power into NSW, while at the same time, taking excess wind power from South Australia when it was there, and excess Hydro power from Tasmania via the link across Bass Strait.

With Summer coming, the market operator, the AEMO has released a statement saying that NSW, Victoria, and South Australia may have problems this Summer with the lack of power availability, leading to potential load shedding in some ares, which I guess is code for blackouts, as consumption ramps up during the Summer Months. To that end, there has been further debate regarding the closure of the Liddell power plant. The plant’s owner, AGL has given a close date of 2022, when Liddell will be just on, or over 50 years old, as some Units came on line a year or so before all four Units were in operation. The thought from Government is that Liddell needs to be kept open for a further five years maybe, as that closure would take potentially 2000MW out of the system. The plant is now old, and like the now closed Hazelwood plant in Victoria has safety problems with the furnace/boiler Units, and the cost to keep them operational would be quite high.

There seems to a bit of a buzz going around that because Liddell supplies power which is readily dispatched, something that wind and solar power cannot do, then that power from Liddell cannot be replaced, unless it is of a similar nature, easily dispatchable, and people are actually beginning to ask questions about electrical power generation, instead of the usual complaints about the cost of that power.

As the weeks go by that I detail this data, it has stayed almost the same, and until people actually realise that even at the point in time when power consumption is at its minimum, Australia is still consuming 18000MW, and that is power which is required absolutely, all the time. Until that fact is burned indelibly into the minds of people then there will always be that meme that Renewable power can provide what we need, something which is patently false. To supply that huge amount of power there is a crying need for plants which actually can generate those huge amounts of power, and here in Australia, that is only coal fired power. We don’t need to be closing those plants down. We either need to be building new ones, or replacing those which are slated for closure.

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.

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