Australian Base Load Electrical Power – Week Ending 7th October 2017

Posted on Sun 10/08/2017 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 1st October 2017

New South Wales – 5800MW (Coal Fired Power – 4400MW)

Queensland – 5050MW (Coal Fired Power – 5200MW)

Victoria – 3730MW (Coal Fired Power – 4000MW)

South Australia – 1060MW

Tasmania – 1060MW

Total – 16700MW

Fossil Fuel – 14500MW (Total coal fired power – 13600MW  – 81.4% of the overall total of 16700MW)

Hydro – 1600MW

Wind – 1140MW (6.8% of the total)

Renewable power – 16.4% of the total.

Sunday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 21850MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 16700MW (76.4%)

Monday 2nd October 2017

New South Wales – 5620MW (Coal Fired Power – 4100MW)

Queensland – 4840MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Victoria – 4120MW (Coal Fired Power – 4400MW)

South Australia – 1040MW

Tasmania – 1080MW

Total – 16700MW

Fossil Fuel – 15000MW (Total coal fired power – 13500MW  – 80.8% of the overall total of 16700MW)

Hydro – 1300MW

Wind – 500MW (3% of the total)

Renewable power – 10.8% of the total.

Monday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 22140MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17400MW (78.5%)

Tuesday 3rd October 2017

New South Wales – 6150MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Queensland – 5350MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Victoria – 4230MW (Coal Fired Power – 4400MW)

South Australia – 1080MW

Tasmania – 1100MW

Total – 17910MW

Fossil Fuel – 15700MW (Total coal fired power – 14400MW  – 80.5% of the overall total of 17910MW)

Hydro – 1800MW

Wind – 500MW (2.7% of the total)

Renewable power – 12.8% of the total.

Tuesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23950MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17500MW (73.1%)

Wednesday 4th October 2017

New South Wales – 6310MW (Coal Fired Power – 4800MW)

Queensland – 5380MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Victoria – 4140MW (Coal Fired Power – 3800MW)

South Australia – 990MW

Tasmania – 1120MW

Total – 17940MW

Fossil Fuel – 15200MW (Total coal fired power – 13600MW  – 75.8% of the overall total of 17940MW)

Hydro – 1540MW

Wind – 1200MW (6.7% of the total)

Renewable power – 15.3% of the total.

Wednesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23770MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17600MW (74%)

Thursday 5th October 2017

New South Wales – 6330MW (Coal Fired Power – 4800MW)

Queensland – 5730MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Victoria – 3800MW (Coal Fired Power – 3100MW)

South Australia – 990MW

Tasmania – 1030MW

Total – 17880MW

Fossil Fuel – 15000MW (Total coal fired power – 12900MW  – 72.2% of the overall total of 17880MW)

Hydro – 1800MW

Wind – 1300MW (7.3% of the total)

Renewable power – 11.7% of the total.

Thursday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24180MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18400MW (76.1%)

Friday 6th October 2017

New South Wales – 6290MW (Coal Fired Power – 4200MW)

Queensland – 5490MW (Coal Fired Power – 5500MW)

Victoria – 4070MW (Coal Fired Power – 3800MW)

South Australia – 1030MW

Tasmania – 1050MW

Total – 17930MW

Fossil Fuel – 14500MW (Total coal fired power – 13500MW  – 75.3% of the overall total of 17930MW)

Hydro – 1800MW

Wind – 2200MW (12.3% of the total)

Renewable power – 22.3% of the total.

Friday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23700MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17200MW (72.6%)

Saturday 7th October 2017

New South Wales – 5920MW (Coal Fired Power – 4200MW)

Queensland – 5440MW (Coal Fired Power – 5300MW)

Victoria – 3900MW (Coal Fired Power – 3900MW)

South Australia – 960MW

Tasmania – 1030MW

Total – 17250MW

Fossil Fuel – 14500MW (Total coal fired power – 13400MW  – 77.6% of the overall total of 17250MW)

Hydro – 1500MW

Wind – 1700MW (9.9% of the total)

Renewable power – 18.6% of the total.

Saturday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 21490MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 16400MW (76.3%)


This Week’s Average For Base Load – 17473MW

This Week’s Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 13557MW – 77.5%

Running Weekly Average For Base Load – 18033MW

Running Weekly Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14419MW – 80%


Comments For This Last Week

This week, the Base Load rose slightly, heading slowly back towards 18000MW, and the contribution from coal fired power also rose marginally as well, and the rolling average for the coal fired contribution is still on that 80% mark.

Having said that, and as has been happening across the last four to five weeks, Units at coal fired power plants all across the three States which have them are still coming off line for maintenance, so that they are ready for the larger power consumption periods that Summer always has. At any one time, there were between eight and eleven Units off line. Some only stay down for a day or so, but some are offline for longer periods, up to three days plus in some cases. This has taken a lot of power generation out of the system, and is most noticeable in the two States with the largest concentration of coal fired power, Queensland (Qld) and New South Wales. (NSW) That old plant currently in the news, Liddell, in NSW, has had two Units off line for almost two weeks and more now, so rather than maintenance for those Units, this is most probably major work being done to them.

As recently as a couple of years ago, this situation with plants off line for maintenance was never really too much of a problem, because there were enough coal fired plants to cover those times when Units had to go off line. Those older plants were used at times like this to supply the power which was taken away. However, those plants have now all closed, the last of them being the Hazelwood plant in Victoria, and now instead of their being adequate (and cheap) power always available, expensive Natural gas fired plants are required to run up for short periods of time, and in some cases to run for longer than they would normally run, just to cover the loss of power from those coal fired plants. The other problem is that, in the main, those coal fired plants have large units, and when they close, then they need more gas fired Units to come on line, and they are nearly always of a smaller Nameplate than the now off line coal fired unit.

Because so many units are off line, that power sharing arrangement between the States via the interconnectors has again been a delicate balancing act. On days (and even down to periods of hours) when wind power has been at a higher level than normal, then that has been used in a small manner to augment power delivery loss due to the down time from those coal fired Units, but, in the main, that power has been supplied from Natural Gas fired plants. While not so evident at that 4AM point in time when power consumption is at its lowest, it is more noticeable in that time between the morning and evening peak power times, and at this time of the year power consumption is lower than it is during the Summer Months, when it can be as much as 8000MW higher.

Because that period of time in the middle of the day has slightly less power consumption, and also because so many Units are off line, power generation has been relatively constant, instead of following the load as it usually does. This is mostly noticeable in Victoria which now only has 10 Units in operation at three plants, and in that State, those remaining Units have been generating their power at almost the maximum level across the whole of the day. The coal fired Units in other two States are also working harder with some of the larger Units in those States going off line, and because of that those remaining Units are generating at a higher level than they usually do across the whole of the day.

This can actually be shown with a series of images, and what I would like to add here is an image for wind power generation as well. I have added that wind power image to show you that while actual power consumption follows a pretty specific curve, which can be accommodated with coal fired power, wind power generation is all over the place, and never correlates with the actual curve for consumption. While the top image is generic for this time of year, all other images were taken on the same day, Monday 2nd October 2017.

The first image here is the generic image for the 5 States across the grid.

This second image below shows the output from the four Units at the Bayswater Plant, and note how all four of them are fairly closely synchronised so that they deliver almost the same power at the same time. Note it is lowest at around the 4AM point in time of lowest consumption, rises for the morning peak, then drops off slightly, rising again for the evening peak. Each Unit at this plant has a maximum generation of 660MW, so, during that larger evening peak, they are almost all operating at their maximum.

This next image below is the same as the one above, only this time, I have added the subtotal for all four units, that black line. Now, note how (relatively) closely it follows the actual power consumption in that top image. The coloured lines you see in the image above are shown here towards the bottom of this image. The plant, which has a Nameplate of 2640MW, so during that evening peak, this plant is almost on its maximum power generation.

The image below is for wind power generation during that same day. Note how it does not resemble the actual consumption Load Curve (that top image) in any manner, and this day, while showing just one day, is indicative of how wind power performs across every day. This is the total for ALL wind generation across the same Australian Grid, and that is from a Nameplate of 4400MW. So, while wind has a Nameplate significantly higher than for the one single coal fired power plant shown here, Bayswater, wind power is only delivering a little more power than ONE unit, and that is just for the one point in time at around 1AM, and then it falls away dramatically to average less than 450MW across the day, well less than that one unit at Bayswater.

From that image for wind power, let’s then look at the specific points in time for power consumption.

At that 4AM minimum Base Load time, wind power is delivering only 3% of the required power. At the time of the morning peak, wind is delivering only 2% of the required power. During that dip between the peaks, wind falls even further to deliver only 1.5% of the required power. At the major evening peak at around 6PM, wind power is only delivering 1.5% of the required power.

When averaged across the whole year that daily average for wind power compared to the average for total power consumption shows that on average, wind power is only delivering 4.6% of all power requirements. There are days when it is higher than that, but even on those days the power delivery from wind is still only a fraction of what is actually required, keeping in mind that all the combined power delivery from all coal fired power averages close to 75%, all year round, and it actually follows that Load requirement.

There really is no comparison between coal fired power and wind power when it comes to the power which is actually required to keep the Country running.

During this last week, the Greens Party of Australia was in the news, trying ‘cash in’ on the media generated scare about the looming power problems that might eventuate this coming Summer. The Party’s Member in the House Of Representatives, Adam Bandt made some startling claims in a media release, and that is shown at this link, which includes an image of him taken at the site of the Liddell and Bayswater power plants.

The article is so full of inaccuracies that I just don’t know where to start, but what it does indicate is that he really has very little understanding on the requirements for power generation, pushing the usual Party line advocating more renewable power and the closure of coal fired power.

One of the things he called for was Legislation to have a target for 20GW of energy storage, such as large grid level battery installations. 20GW is 20,000MW. The major problem with that is that word ‘storage’. To actually have that much storage, you actually need 20000MW of dedicated power from other sources to charge up that storage, It is not NEW power as it has to be charged up to capacity so that it can deliver that power at a time when it is required. So, even if that storage was in place, at a horrendously enormous cost, then the power will be required to charge up those batteries. So, either you use the power as it is required for the times when it actually is required, or you divert that power to charge the batteries so they are ready to deliver when it is perceived to be needed the most. presumably at Peak Power times. You either USE the power or charge the Batteries. You can’t do both, and if you do plan to do that, then you need commensurately more power, so you can use some of it to supply the power which is needed for actual consumption, and some of it to charge up the batteries. Even so, if they were to get rid of coal fired power, the stated aim of The Greens, then they would need to exponentially increase renewable power, which sees wind power currently only with a total Nameplate of 4400MW, but actually only a year round daily average of just over 1300MW, and this Greens spokesman is calling for 20,000MW of storage.

Adam Bandt then goes on to say this:

“We don’t have a baseload problem, we have a peak load problem.”

This tells me that he obviously has no idea what the term BASE LOAD really means.

That Base Load is an actual physical ABSOLUTE, and it never falls below 18000MW, so that’s 18000MW minimum ALL the time, rising to those Peak power times in Winter and in Summer.

What is needed is power plants which can supply that all the time, are able to follow the Load, and can be relied on to supply the power which is required for all time periods across every day.

That is only, and here in Australia can only ever be coal fired power.

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.