Australian Base Load Electrical Power – Week Ending 14th October 2017

Posted on Sun 10/15/2017 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 8th October 2017

New South Wales – 5760MW (Coal Fired Power – 3800MW)

Queensland – 5110MW (Coal Fired Power – 4800MW)

Victoria – 3400MW (Coal Fired Power – 3800MW)

South Australia – 1010MW

Tasmania – 980MW

Total – 16260MW

Fossil Fuel – 14000MW (Total coal fired power – 12400MW  – 76.3% of the overall total of 16260MW)

Hydro – 1400MW

Wind – 1600MW (9.8% of the total)

Renewable power – 18.5% of the total.

Sunday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 22340MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 16800MW (75.2%)

Monday 9th October 2017

New South Wales – 6130MW (Coal Fired Power – 4200MW)

Queensland – 5070MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Victoria – 3780MW (Coal Fired Power – 4000MW)

South Australia – 900MW

Tasmania – 1050MW

Total – 16930MW

Fossil Fuel – 14400MW (Total coal fired power – 13200MW  – 78% of the overall total of 16930MW)

Hydro – 1500MW

Wind – 1200MW (7.1% of the total)

Renewable power – 15.9% of the total.

Monday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24400MW and Coal Fired Power supplied MW (%)

Tuesday 10th October 2017

New South Wales – 6310MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

Queensland – 5360MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Victoria – 4280MW (Coal Fired Power – 4300MW)

South Australia – 1030MW

Tasmania – 1030MW

Total – 18010MW

Fossil Fuel – 15500MW (Total coal fired power – 13900MW  – 77.2% of the overall total of 18010MW)

Hydro – 1800MW

Wind – 520MW (2.9% of the total)

Renewable power – 12.8% of the total.

Tuesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24000MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17800MW (74.2%)

Wednesday 11th October 2017

New South Wales – 5950MW (Coal Fired Power – 4700MW)

Queensland – 5630MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Victoria – 3910MW (Coal Fired Power – 3500MW)

South Australia – 920MW

Tasmania – 980MW

Total – 17390MW

Fossil Fuel – 14000MW (Total coal fired power – 13200MW  – 75.9% of the overall total of 17390MW)

Hydro – 1600MW

Wind – 2400MW (13.8% of the total)

Renewable power – 23% of the total.

Wednesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23760MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17400MW (73.2%)

Thursday 12th October 2017

New South Wales – 6140MW (Coal Fired Power – 4500MW)

Queensland – 5630MW (Coal Fired Power – 4800MW)

Victoria – 3970MW (Coal Fired Power – 3800MW)

South Australia – 940MW

Tasmania – 970MW

Total – 17650MW

Fossil Fuel – 14400MW (Total coal fired power – 13100MW  – 74.2% of the overall total of 17650MW)

Hydro – 1800MW

Wind – 2200MW (12.5% of the total)

Renewable power – 22.7% of the total.

Thursday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23750MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17300MW (72.8%)

Friday 13th October 2017

New South Wales – 6290MW (Coal Fired Power – 5500MW)

Queensland – 5590MW (Coal Fired Power – 4800MW)

Victoria – 4140MW (Coal Fired Power – 4100MW)

South Australia – 1120MW

Tasmania – 1090MW

Total – 18230MW

Fossil Fuel – 15400MW (Total coal fired power – 14400MW  – 79% of the overall total of 18230MW)

Hydro – 1700MW

Wind – 1000MW (5.5% of the total)

Renewable power – 14.8% of the total.

Friday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23310MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17200MW (73.8%)

Saturday 14th October 2017

New South Wales – 5940MW (Coal Fired Power – 5100MW)

Queensland – 5160MW (Coal Fired Power – 4800MW)

Victoria – 3990MW (Coal Fired Power – 3300MW)

South Australia – 1050MW

Tasmania – 1110MW

Total – 17250MW

Fossil Fuel – 15000MW (Total coal fired power – 13200MW  – 76.5% of the overall total of 17250MW)

Hydro – 1800MW

Wind – 700MW (4.1% of the total)

Renewable power – 14.5% of the total.

Saturday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 21400MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 16200MW (75.7%)


This Week’s Average For Base Load – 17389MW

This Week’s Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 13343MW – 76.7%

Running Weekly Average For Base Load – 17991MW

Running Weekly Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14347MW – 79.7%


Comments For This Last Week

Again, this week, coal fired Units across the three States with coal fired power are going off line for maintenance in the lead up to Summer, when the Peak power changes from the Winter period, when there are two Peaks, to the Summer period with just that one major Peak during the middle of the day. These benign Months (Spring here in Australia now, and then again in April, when it is mid Autumn in the lead up to Winter) are when this is done, and because of that, the amount of power delivered by coal fired power falls, but only slightly, by a few percentage points, and that is reflected in the running average dropping just a fraction below that figure of the year round average of around 18000MW.

It’s interesting to watch as another Unit goes down, but that does not happen before one of the ones which was already down starts to run back up, almost as if the rundown/runup is coordinated, and in fact, it actually is just that. Those Units are staying down for around two and a half days or so as the work is done. At any one time during the week, there were between 9 and 12 Units off line, and as one fired back up, another would close down. The loss of power to the overall grid system as a whole came in at between 5000 and 6000MW, almost one quarter of all coal fired power Nameplate.

Contrary to what some people believe, that it takes days for a large scale coal fired unit to run back up, they are coming back up to almost full power (from zero) in around 5 to 7 hours, while the shut down takes around three hours.

So then, why does something like this actually happen? And why does it happen at this specific time of the year?

Again, look closely at these two generic load curves the top one for Winter and the lower one for Summer.

Now, while these two Load Curve images are generic in nature, the top one is closer to what an actual Load Curve looks like for this last week, only that dip in the middle between the two Peaks for this week has the power consumption at only around 21,000/22000MW, considerably lower than it is during the middle of Winter, as shown in the Load Curve above. During these benign Months, there is no major need for the heating required in Winter and the cooling needed in the Summer, so consumption all over is reduced at this time of year. Now, note that the single peak in Summer is close to 30000MW. That gap is between 8000 and 9000MW, and can sometimes be actually larger than that again.

That’s a huge amount of power. Where is that power being consumed?

Look at this image.

This is just a small part of the Sydney skyline, and in this small area alone there are a number of tall buildings, just a small section of around 1300 tall buildings in Sydney alone. Melbourne and Victoria, although smaller State Capitals also have vast numbers of tall buildings as well. It’s not just those State Capital cities, as there are other State Capitals, large cities, medium sized cities, and small cities all across the Country, and each small city has at least some high rise buildings, so all up there could be many thousands of these high rise buildings in Australia, and extrapolated out, also in every other Country on Earth.

Each one of those tall buildings consumes a huge amount of power. While some of them are residential structures, most of them are workplaces where people pour into in the mornings and leave in the evenings. Think of the elevators/lifts, and the huge electrical motors which lift them up and down, virtually all day. Think of the water supply in each of them, again huge electrically operated pumps to get water into and out of the structure, as well as the sewerage. Think of the lighting, although this is only a small component of total power consumption. As they are workplaces there would be electrically operated equipment at virtually every desk in every room. There are refrigerators in every meal room, and the list of power consumption does not stop there.

The Role Of HVAC And Ventilation

By far the largest power consumer in each of those buildings is something called HVAC, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning, so, being the largest consumer of electricity in those structures, let’s look a little closely at that HVAC.

Each of those structures has a huge unit on the roof which operates all this. Calling it an air conditioner is erroneous, because a small home air conditioner that we might first think of is just so tiny by comparison, and while similar in nature, they are completely different, other than when comparing the size alone.

Note specifically the second letter of that acronym, the V part of it, Ventilation. Each of those tall structures has no capability for you just to go and open the window to ‘let in some air’, as those windows are sealed completely, and in many cases they are an integral part of the structure itself, and on some of those high rises, an increasing number of them, are in fact all hardened tempered and coloured glass. You cannot expect the small rotating door at the street level of the structure lo let in air, as here you have a place of work where perhaps hundreds or more people are working for the whole of the normal work day.

That ventilation comes from those huge Units on the roof, the ‘V’ part of that HVAC. Ventilation includes both the exchange of air with the outside as well as circulation of air within the building. It is one of the most important factors for maintaining acceptable indoor air quality in buildings. Huge fan units push air into and extract air from the building, and circulate air throughout the building, keeping a constant flow of breathing air circulating throughout the whole structure, not just during the working day hours, but for the whole 24 hours of every day. That ventilation needs to continue throughout the night, so it’s not just a matter of shutting it all off every evening as the last worker leaves the building, because, if they did, the building would be virtually unable to be occupied again the following morning because the air in it would be stale and not fit for breathing, so that ventilation aspect is running 24 hours of every day, and that is what is a large part of that 18000MW Base Load, that minimum amount of power as seen at that 4AM point in time every day.

The Role Of HVAC In The Winter Months

Inside those buildings, mainly workplaces, the very nature of them is to have conditions which are comfortable for all the people in the building, and because of that, when compared to the outside, cold in Winter, and hot in Summer, then the inside is kept a a constant temperature all year round, so that it ‘feels‘ warmer inside in Winter, and cooler inside in the Summer, even though the temperature is set at a constant level.

Here, in those Winter Months, the ‘H’ part of the HVAC comes into play, the heating aspect, and this is similar in nature (only scaled up to the huge basis of a tall building) to a reverse cycle air conditioning unit, and it is then the compressors come into play, and they require huge electrical motors to run those compressors, so they are large consumers of electricity. While it is cold outside, the inside is heated to that comfortable temperature. When the temperature drops inside the structure, (like early in the mornings as people arrive for work, and then in the evenings as the day naturally begins to cool again) then the compressors come on and heat the inside back up to the ‘ambient’ set temperature, that comfortable level. However, as is the nature of the structure itself, there are now a number of people inside it, warming the inside up with the work they do. The elevators are running, the water is being pumped in and out, and because of that usage of power which generates some heat of itself, that also aids in warming up the inside of the structure. Also the glass structure itself focuses the light from outside as the day warms up outside to also assist in warming up the inside of the building. So now, the inside of that structure becomes naturally warmer from all the activity inside, so the heaters do not need to come on as often, hence the compressors rarely operate at all, so there is a lower power consumption during those working hours, and that is reflected in the shape of the Winter Load Curve shown above where there is a dip between that morning and evening Peak power consumption.

The Role Of HVAC In The Summer Months

In the Summer Months, in a matter similar to a small (by comparison) home reverse cycle air conditioner, then the ‘AC’ part of HVAC comes into play, when the inside of those tall structures needs to be cooled.

First thing in the mornings, as people arrive for work, all that has been in operation is the Ventilation aspect with those huge fans circulating the air into and out of the building. As work starts, the inside begins to warm, and because it is now Summer, the outside temperature is hotter, and with all that activity inside, and now with the glass structure itself focussing that outside heat into the building, then the Units on the roof now have to work overtime to cool down the inside, and those compressors, now on cooling, work pretty much constantly throughout the day, and as as the outside heats up considerably, then the inside must be kept cool for all the workers otherwise the building would be uninhabitable. Those compressors are as I mentioned huge consumers of electricity, and that is now reflected in the change in the shape of the Load Curve for the Summer Months, and as I mentioned above, that can be anything up to an extra 8000MW plus of electrical power required for Summer over what is being consumed in those benign Months of Spring and Autumn.

Some people have erroneously attributed this rise in Summer power consumption to the increasing use of home air conditioning, and that rumour is difficult to dispel, because people just do not attribute increased power consumption to HVAC, which of itself is a huge electricity burden. However, something like this can actually be proved to be correct, that it is not home air conditioning adding that huge amount of power.

There is one day in every year when no one goes to work and they all stay home or with other family members at their homes, and that day Is Christmas Day, and here in Australia, that is in mid Summer, so we could actually compare the shapes of Load curves for normal Summer work day (the above summer Load Curve image) and a typical Load Curve for Christmas Day, and this shows something quite startling.

This image below of a Load Curve is for power consumption in Australia for Christmas Day 2013.

There’s always the chance that some people might think that I have cherry picked just one Christmas Day, so just to back that up, these links are to images of Load Curves for Christmas Day in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, and you’ll note when comparing them that they are similar in shape and also in power consumption levels to the main image of Christmas Day 2013 shown above. Further to that, some people may also say that these load curves hark back to 2009 to 2013, and the so called ‘explosion’ of home air conditioning has only come in more recent years, so the image below is for Christmas of 2016, the most recent Christmas Day, and while this only shows the Load Curve for fossil fuel generation, here in Australia, that covers almost 80% of total power generation so while that dip in this curve is only around 17500MW, the total from all power generation is only a little higher than that.

You will also note that the shape of the curve of this and the other Christmas Day curves almost harks back to the shape of the Winter Load Curve where there are two Peaks for consumption in the morning and again in the evening, with a slight dip between them.

However, what is most noticeable is that power consumption is lower, and not just by a small margin, but by a very considerable margin across the whole 24 hour range of that Load Curve. Note that while the year round average for the Base Load is around 18000MW, here on Christmas Day, it is lower, again by a considerable margin, and here that is almost 3000MW plus lower. Now note the low point in the dip between the peaks and consumption there is barely 17,500MW a full 12,500MW lower than for a normal Summer work day of 30000MW.

That is 12500MW a huge amount of power. On this day, no one is at work, so there is no activity in those tall structures, other than the Ventilation aspect which operates for the whole 24 hours of every day, and is covered in the Base Load. Also consider that if this so called problem of high consumption being solely due to home air conditioning, then that would now be reflected in that Christmas Day Load Curve, because everyone is at home and not at work, and realistically, then all those home air conditioners would be operational, as Christmas Day here in Australia is in mid Summer, and as can be seen here, that increase is just not there at all.

All that extra power consumption can now virtually only be sheeted home to what is being consumed in workplaces across the Country, and by far the largest consumer of all of that would be HVAC in those tall structures in cities across the Country.

And that is why, right now, in the benign Months of mid Spring, all those coal fired power plants are shutting down their Units one at a time, and having maintenance done to them so that they will be ready to cover that huge extra increase in power consumption during the approaching Summer Months.

This is just another example of just why coal fired power is so important, and important because it is the only source of large scale electrical power which can cover these huge amounts of power consumption across the full 24 hours of every day of every year.

Coal fired power – There just is no substitute.

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.