Australian Base Load Electrical Power – Week Ending 23rd September 2017

Posted on Sat 09/23/2017 by


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 17th September 2017

New South Wales – 6240MW (Coal Fired Power – 4500MW)

Queensland – 4930MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 4070MW (Coal Fired Power – 3500MW)

South Australia – 1010MW

Tasmania – 1180MW

Total – 17430MW

Fossil Fuel – 15000MW (Total coal fired power – 13700MW  – 78.6% of the overall total of 17430MW)

Hydro – 1500MW

Wind – 1100MW (6.3% of the total)

Renewable power – 14.9% of the total.

Sunday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23890MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17400MW (72.8%)

Monday 18th September 2017

New South Wales – 6420MW (Coal Fired Power – 3800MW)

Queensland – 4960MW (Coal Fired Power – 5500MW)

Victoria – 3660MW (Coal Fired Power – 3100MW)

South Australia – 910MW

Tasmania – 1050MW

Total – 17000MW

Fossil Fuel – 13800MW (Total coal fired power – 12400MW  – 72.9% of the overall total of 17000MW)

Hydro – 1180MW

Wind – 2700MW (15.9% of the total)

Renewable power – 22.8% of the total.

Monday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25020MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17200MW (68.7%)

Tuesday 19th September 2017

New South Wales – 6390MW (Coal Fired Power – 3600MW)

Queensland – 5020MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Victoria – 3870MW (Coal Fired Power – 3800MW)

South Australia – 1070MW

Tasmania – 1070MW

Total – 17420MW

Fossil Fuel – 14400MW (Total coal fired power – 13000MW  – 74.6% of the overall total of 17420MW)

Hydro – 1200MW

Wind – 2250MW (12.9% of the total)

Renewable power – 19.8% of the total.

Tuesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 26090MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18300MW (70.1%)

Wednesday 20th September 2017

New South Wales – 6440MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

Queensland – 5070MW (Coal Fired Power – 5800MW)

Victoria – 4320MW (Coal Fired Power – 4000MW)

South Australia – 1080MW

Tasmania – 1210MW

Total – 18120MW

Fossil Fuel – 16000MW (Total coal fired power – 14400MW  – 79.5% of the overall total of 18120MW)

Hydro – 1500MW

Wind – 800MW (4.4% of the total)

Renewable power – 12.7% of the total.

Wednesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25100MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17800MW (70.9%)

Thursday 21st September 2017

New South Wales – 6400MW (Coal Fired Power – 4000MW)

Queensland – 5050MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Victoria – 3820MW (Coal Fired Power – 3500MW)

South Australia – 960MW

Tasmania – 1100MW

Total – 17330MW

Fossil Fuel – 14000MW (Total coal fired power – 13100MW  – 75.6% of the overall total of 17330MW)

Hydro – 1500MW

Wind – 2600MW (15% of the total)

Renewable power – 23.7% of the total.

Thursday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25060MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17800MW (71%)

Friday 22nd September 2017

New South Wales – 6190MW (Coal Fired Power – 4500MW)

Queensland – 5380MW (Coal Fired Power – 5800MW)

Victoria – 4100MW (Coal Fired Power – 4000MW)

South Australia – 1070MW

Tasmania – 1110MW

Total – 17850MW

Fossil Fuel – 15000MW (Total coal fired power – 14300MW  – 80.1% of the overall total of 17850MW)

Hydro – 1500MW

Wind – 1000MW (5.6% of the total)

Renewable power – 14% of the total.

Friday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23860MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17400MW (72.9%)

Saturday 23rd September 2017

New South Wales – 5920MW (Coal Fired Power – 3500MW)

Queensland – 5020MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 3640MW (Coal Fired Power – 3600MW)

South Australia – 1070MW

Tasmania – 1010MW

Total – 16660MW

Fossil Fuel – 14000MW (Total coal fired power – 12800MW  – 76.8% of the overall total of 16660MW)

Hydro – 1200MW

Wind – 2200MW (13.2% of the total)

Renewable power – 20.4% of the total.

Saturday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 22380MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 16100MW (71.9%)


This Week’s Average For Base Load – 17402MW

This Week’s Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 13386MW – 76.9%

Running Weekly Average For Base Load – 18157MW

Running Weekly Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14627MW – 80.6%


Comments For This Last Week

Again, you can see that the Base Load fell slightly again as we move more into the benign Months of Spring, and here we need to keep this in context, as that fall is still only around 4% of the average, and as you can see the rolling average for that Base Load is still higher than 18,000MW, with coal fired power still supplying 80% of that actual Load being consumed.

As I mentioned last week, those coal fired plants are taking this time of slightly lesser consumption to schedule down time for maintenance before the Demand begins to ramp up as Summer approaches. To that end, it was similar this week to what it was last week with Units shutting down all across the Country, and again there were 9 and sometimes 10 Units off line, and that comes in at a Generation total of around 5000MW plus of power removed from the grid. It’s an interesting thing to watch the co-ordination between Units owned by different entities, because as one Unit drops off line, one of the Units that was previously off line comes back into service. The State of NSW suffers the most with four of the major Units off line at any one time, and that’s a total of almost 2500MW, which is the equivalent of one whole plant out of action. So again, one of the important things to watch was the interchange of power between the States, as both Queensland and Victoria supplied power into NSW, and to augment the power coming from Victoria, both Tasmanian Hydro, and some excess wind power from South Australia went to supply Victoria, as South Australia again relied on its gas fired plants, still supplying the main bulk of power for that State.

Now, where I mentioned the benign Months, I would refer you back to the two images I showed of Load Curves back in the Introductory Post, and I’ll show those two images again here.

The top image is the Load Curve for the Winter Months, and the lower image is the Load Curve for the Summer Months. You can see the two distinct Peaks for consumption on that Winter curve, and they are at around 8AM and a slightly larger one for the evening Peak at around 6PM, while in Summer, there is only that one Peak at around the Midday early afternoon time period. Now, while these Load Curve images are indicative only, I want you to note that dip between the two Winter Peaks. At the bottom of that Winter dip, the average power consumption is around 22,000MW, and during the Summer Months that Peak usually average close to 28,000MW to 30,000MW, and can be as high as 32,000MW, and on the odd occasion, even more than that. That’s a full 6,000 to 8,000MW higher on average.

So, while that power consumption has now entered the benign Months, large amounts of power are required for longer times than they are during the Winter Months. (And as we actually get close to the time when those Load Curves begin to change their shape, then, at that time I will explain why there is a difference, and where that extra power is being consumed, and it has mainly to do with the high rise buildings in any city and mostly in the huge number of high rise buildings in State Capital Cities where there are so many of them) That is the main reason why those Power Plants are scheduling their Units for down time, as consumption between those Winter peaks is at a lower level for a longer time. That is when those large coal fired power plants will be required to be supplying their larger amounts of power, hence the need for regular maintenance so they can be at their optimum during those Summer Months of higher consumption.

Again, this week, the media was full of (mainly political) talk of electrical power supply policy. The thing they latched onto this week was pumped Hydro, and the principle behind that is there are two water levels, an upper catchment and a lower catchment. During the periods when there is large power consumption water flows downhill and through the turbines to generate power and that is supplied to the grid. Then, during time of low power consumption, the water is pumped back up the hill from the lower to the upper catchment. Note here that there is no such thing as ‘free’ power, as electricity is required to power the pumps when that water is being pumped back up the hill. In fact, a little more power is required to pump the water back up the hill than is generated when flowing downhill and through the turbines.

So, this is not new power at all, as it equals out, power delivered versus power consumed, so another source of power is required to pump the water back uphill so it can be used many times over.

What was latched onto by the media was a report indicating that there could be as many as, wait for it, 22,000 separate NEW sites where this pumped hydro technology could be used. Here is the link to just one of those media articles, and there are two short videos to watch at that link.

22,000 sites! What! They say that they only need a fraction of them for Australia to be 100% Renewable, and by 2030. Right. At what cost?

So then, just how many pumped hydro sites are there currently here in Australia. There are two of them, one at Tumut Three in the Snowy Mountains and one at the huge Wivenhoe Dam to the west of Brisbane. Tumut Three has a Nameplate of 1650MW and Wivenhoe has a Nameplate of 500MW. And, just how much pumped Hydro power was generated during this last week, just seven days. For Wivenhoe, well it was not utilised once, so none there, and with Tumut Three, it was utilised on three occasions during the week. There were two occasions where one of the six Units generated 260MW for three hours, and on the third occasion one unit generated 260MW for 6 hours so 260MW for 12 hours. Australia had a total power consumption last week of an average 23,000MW per day for the seven days, hence 168 hours, so the vaunted pumped hydro supplied 0.08% of Australia’s total power consumption, not even one tenth of one percent. That looks to me like a certain proposal for the cure to all our worries. I find it amazing how thought bubbles like this just roll off the tongue, as if it was a snap, and so easy to accomplish, and utilising excess wind and solar power to do it, when both of those sources supply only 6 to 10% of the power currently being consumed right now. So not only do they need to ramp up both of those Renewables to cover current use, they have to overbuild even more to provide excess to cover this new pumped hydro dream, because that’s all it will ever be. With green supporters so noisy about any proposal for any new dam, you can just imagine how easily something like will be, or most probably, will not be achieved, and it’s not even NEW power at all.

Wind Power again had another average week, and here I’ll just mention that point in time of minimum consumption, that all important Base Load. Wind power averaged 10.5% of total power generation for the week, with a low of 4.4% and a high of 15.9% People may point to that high figure, but even that is still only small by comparison, but what do you do when it’s as low as what it was here, and on some earlier weeks, even lower than that again.

No, what is needed here is for a supply of power which actually can deliver those huge amounts of power which are required absolutely, not just at 4AM minimum consumption but, but across the whole 24 hour day. Take away that coal fired power, and there is quite literally ….. nothing. Australia just fades (very quickly) to black.

As a sidelight here, next week I’m going to bite the bullet and attempt to do something I have been debating about for the last couple of years, to try and explain the relationship between Reactive Power and the True Power being consumed. It’s a difficult electrical power concept that a lot of electricians have some difficulty in understanding, so my task is to find some way to explain it to readers who have what might only be minimal understanding of the basics of electrical power generation, and its consumption across so many areas. This was suggested to me in a Comment I received during this last week, so I have a week to work on it. I would like to thank Richard who made the comment for suggesting it, because it is something I have agonised over these last two years or more.

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.