Australian Base Load Electrical Power – Week Ending 11th November 2017

Posted on Sun 11/12/2017 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 5th November 2017

New South Wales – 5960MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

Queensland – 5180MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 3680MW (Coal Fired Power – 3400MW)

South Australia – 930MW

Tasmania – 1070MW

Total – 16550MW

Fossil Fuel – 15200MW (Total coal fired power – 13700MW  – 82.8% of the overall total of 16550MW)

Hydro – 500MW

Wind – 1450MW (8.8% of the total)

Renewable power – 11.8% of the total.

Sunday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 22210MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 16500MW (74.3%)

Monday 6th November 2017

New South Wales – 6530MW (Coal Fired Power – 5200MW)

Queensland – 5240MW (Coal Fired Power – 5400MW)

Victoria – 3630MW (Coal Fired Power – 3400MW)

South Australia – 980MW

Tasmania – 1130MW

Total – 17510MW

Fossil Fuel – 15000MW (Total coal fired power – 14000MW  – 80% of the overall total of 17510MW)

Hydro – 520MW

Wind – 1800MW (10.3% of the total)

Renewable power – 13.2% of the total.

Monday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23710MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17000MW (71.7%)

Tuesday 7th November 2017

New South Wales – 6560MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Queensland – 5260MW (Coal Fired Power – 5300MW)

Victoria – 3650MW (Coal Fired Power – 3400MW)

South Australia – 1120MW

Tasmania – 1060MW

Total – 17650MW

Fossil Fuel – 16000MW (Total coal fired power – 13700MW  – 77.6% of the overall total of 17650MW)

Hydro – 400MW

Wind – 1600MW (9.1% of the total)

Renewable power – 11.3% of the total.

Tuesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23060MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17300MW (75%)

Wednesday 8th November 2017

New South Wales – 6750MW (Coal Fired Power – 4800MW)

Queensland – 5190MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Victoria – 3830MW (Coal Fired Power – 3300MW)

South Australia – 1080MW

Tasmania – 1140MW

Total – 17990MW

Fossil Fuel – 16000MW (Total coal fired power –13700 MW  – 76.2% of the overall total of 17990MW)

Hydro – 600MW

Wind – 1400MW (7.8% of the total)

Renewable power – 11.1% of the total.

Wednesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23210MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17400MW (75%)

Thursday 9th November 2017

New South Wales – 6500MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Queensland – 5180MW (Coal Fired Power – 5300MW)

Victoria – 4130MW (Coal Fired Power – 3400MW)

South Australia – 1050MW

Tasmania – 1050MW

Total – 17910MW

Fossil Fuel – 16000MW (Total coal fired power – 13700MW  – 76.5% of the overall total of 17910MW)

Hydro – 400MW

Wind – 1200MW (6.7% of the total)

Renewable power – 8.9% of the total.

Thursday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23510MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17300MW (73.6%)

Friday 10th November 2017

New South Wales – 6470MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

Queensland – 5120MW (Coal Fired Power – 5500MW)

Victoria – 4040MW (Coal Fired Power – 3800MW)

South Australia – 1030MW

Tasmania – 1060MW

Total – 17720MW

Fossil Fuel – 15800MW (Total coal fired power – 13900MW  – 78.4% of the overall total of 17720MW)

Hydro – 500MW

Wind – 1200MW (6.8% of the total)

Renewable power – 9.6% of the total.

Friday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23480MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17700MW (75.4%)

Saturday 11th November 2017

New South Wales – 6340MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Queensland – 4990MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

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

South Australia – 1110MW

Tasmania – 990MW

Total – 17230MW

Fossil Fuel – 16000MW (Total coal fired power – 14400MW  – 83.6% of the overall total of 17230MW)

Hydro – 560MW

Wind – 900MW (5.2% of the total)

Renewable power – 8.5% of the total.

Saturday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 21890MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17000MW (77.7%)


This Week’s Average For Base Load – 17509MW

This Week’s Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 13871MW – 79.2%

Running Weekly Average For Base Load – 17875MW

Running Weekly Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14303MW – 79.5%


Comments For This Last Week

This week shows that the data for the Base Load is beginning to creep back up towards that 18000MW mark as the benign weather of Spring slowly gives way to Summer. The profile for power consumption in most of the States has also started to show that distinct dip between the two peaks of the Winter profile slowly evening out, and by December 1st, I will be changing over from the larger of the two (cooler Months) Peak at 6PM to the typical peak of Summer, between Midday and mid afternoon.

Also noticeable this week is the lowering of the number of Units off line for maintenance in readiness for the approaching increase in power consumption for Summer, and that was especially noticeable in New South Wales. (NSW) While in earlier weeks that number of Units off line across the whole of Australia was usually around 10 and even 12 at some times, the end of this week saw only 8 of them down. In NSW, they still had three Units down, but two of those are the Units at the old Liddell plant, and both of those Units have been offline now for 17 continuous weeks, dating back to August 10th. The owner of that plant is AGL, and it looks (to me anyway) suspiciously like they are down for good. It seems odd really, because AGL say that are keeping the plant in operation, (well, some sort of operation anyway) for another 4 or more years, so you would think they would at least attempt to be seen to doing something to keep those Units running, rather than leaving them offline for 17 weeks now. That AGL Company has said that they are ‘getting out of coal’, and that of itself seems odd, as, besides owning this Liddell plant, they also own the nearby Bayswater plant as well, a much larger, and younger plant than Liddell, a plant which actually is having its Units upgraded. When combined, both Bayswater and Liddell are making this Company between three and four million dollars a day from the sale of electricity, so coal fired power is indeed quite lucrative for the Company. AGL also owns the coal fired plant at Loy Yang in Victoria as well.

So, with those two Units at Liddell still down, that means that only one Unit is down in NSW currently, and to my reckoning most of those Units have now had that period of maintenance. They are still doing Units in Queensland where three of those are down, and there are two down in Victoria, and all those Units have been down on a rotational basis.

I might suggest, that by early to mid December, very few of those Units will be off line as power consumption begins to rise.


I’m going to base most of this week’s comments around the State of Queensland, not because they have an election looming in that State, but because Queensland shows us something a little different in Australia, and it needs some careful explanation, and what I have to say here also makes the case for the construction of a new coal fired power plant in the North of that State.

The image below is of the Kogan Creek Power Station, near Chinchilla in Queensland, around 280Km from the State Capital Brisbane. This coal fired power plant is the youngest in Australia and is only ten years old. It uses SuperCritical technology, and it has one turbine/generator Unit with a Nameplate of 750MW, making it the largest single unit in Australia. This plant was constructed using the best available technology at the time, and since then, the technology has improved one level to UltraSuperCritical, (USC) also referred to as High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) coal fired power. This plant at Kogan Creek is still a vast improvement on the older technology plants currently in existence here in Australia. It burns coal more efficiently, and the technology for every part of the plant has also improved, including the turbine/generator unit, so much so that this new technology plant burns 42% less coal per unit of power being generated. (MWH)

When I started doing this analysis of the data I was recording, I was surprised to see that Queensland was the second largest consumer (by State) of electricity in the Country. That seemed somehow anomalous as it is only the third largest Sate by population. New South Wales (NSW) has the largest population with almost 7.8 Million People with 4.4 Million of that population in the State Capital, Australia’s largest city, Sydney. Victoria has the second largest population with 6.1 Million, and Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia has a population of 4.7 Million. Queensland will probably soon surpass Victoria with its population now just on 6 Million, with Brisbane having a population of 2.3 Million people, less than half that of Melbourne, and even less than that for Sydney.

So, when it came to electrical power consumption, I was surprised to see that Queensland regularly has power consumption between 35% and 60% higher than that for Victoria. Some might think that is because Queensland is further North than Victoria, hence a lot hotter, thus the greater prevalence of air conditioning, but that higher power consumption even applied in the Winter Months when Victoria should be using more heating, but that did not show up at all, as Queensland still had consistently higher power consumption. So, there must be some other reason for this State to be consuming more electricity, and sometimes, it was actually close to that of NSW.

However, when you look at the map showing Australia, it gives you an appreciation of the actual size of the State of Queensland. The area of Queensland is 7.7 times greater than that of Victoria, and it is even 2.3 times greater than for NSW. Queensland is more spread out, much more decentralised than those other two States, especially Victoria, which is tiny by comparison.

A few weeks back, I mentioned how HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) played a large role in consumption of electrical power, especially in Capital Cities, large and medium large sized cities, so I went and looked up the largest cities in Australia by population.

Of the 25 cities in Australia with the largest population, nine of them are in Queensland. NSW and Victoria have four each with one further city on the border of those two States. There are five other State and Territory capital cities, and one large city each in Tasmania and Western Australia. So, Queensland has far and away the most number of large cities, again emphasising the decentralisation of that State. All of these 25 cities have populations greater than 70,000 people, so we’re not talking small cities here, and keep in mind that this is Australia with a population of only 24.5 Million people.

In Queensland, four of those nine cities are in the South East corner close to Brisbane, and that now adds up to 3.4 Million people, so that means 2.7 Million people living outside that SE corner. Of those remaining five cities in Queensland, they are spread out along the vast coastline of the State, all of them well North of Brisbane. Bundaberg is the closest, only 360Km from Brisbane. Rockhampton is next at 620Km from Brisbane, then Mackay at 950Km from Brsibane, Townsville at 1360Km from Brisbane, and then Cairns at 1680Km from Brisbane. When you look at Victoria, there is nowhere the State more than 450Km from Melbourne, again showing how spread out Queensland is. That’s not the end of it either, as there are around a dozen or so smaller cities spread along the vast Coastline of the State.

So now, keeping in mind how large cities consume large amounts of power, let’s then look at that availability of a constant, regular, and reliable power.

Firstly, consider again the situation in Victoria. The three major coal fired plants, Loy Yang A and B and Yallourn W are all within 250Km of Melbourne, so virtually the whole State of Victoria has ready access to that coal fired power.

Here in Queensland, there are eight coal fired power plants. Four of them, Milmerran, Tarong A and B and Kogan Creek are all within 280 Km of Brisbane, so they can effectively supply that South East corner where there is that large population and the those four large cities.

Then you have to go up the Coast to Gladstone, 500Km from Brisbane to find the next group of four coal fired power plants, the plant at Gladstone, the two plants at Callide, and then further North to Rockhampton (620Km from Brisbane) to find the furthest North coal fired power plant. The plant at Gladstone is the oldest in the State at nearly 40 years old, and three quarters of that power is consumed by the large Aluminium refining plant, and the remainder is used in the surrounding communities.

So here we have the furthest North plant at Stanwell, just 20 Km from where I am sitting now to effectively supply a reliable power to all points North of here. Rockhampton is the large city supplied by its closest plant, that one at Stanwell, and that plant is virtually all there is to supply reliable power to those three remaining cities to the North of here, and those distances are indeed quite large, so let’s then look at those four large cities to the North of Rockhampton, keeping in mind the proximity of Melbourne in Victoria to its power plants. (250Km)

Mackay is the next of those large cities to the North of here and that is 340KM away. The next is Townsville  which is 720 Km from here and Cairns is 1050Km from here. Realistically, considering what is already being consumed, and the normal losses of power over distance, there would probably be very little of Stanwell’s power available anywhere North of Mackay.

The distance from Mackay to Cape York is 1700Km plus, and that’s just along the coastline, as being such a large State, there are also a number of cities and towns away from the Coastline as well. All of those cities and towns have limited access to smaller power plants, some gas fired, some diesel, and some hydro, but all of those power plants are small.

When you look at coal fired power plants in Australia, and just look dispassionately at the list of plants, you’ll see quite easily that perhaps Queensland is the only State of the three States which still have coal fired power that feasibly does not need a new coal fired plant. As I mentioned above, the oldest plant in the State is at Gladstone, and while Callide B and Tarong are 30 years old, all the other five plants are younger than 20 years. So, Queensland has the youngest fleet of coal fired plants in Australia, and in fact, far and away, four of the most modern in Australia, Callide C, Kogan Creek, Milmerran, and Tarong North all SuperCritical plants.

Also, when you add up the Nameplate, they provide more than enough power to service the whole consumption of the State, and in fact, these eight plants supply between 105% and 125% of the State’s total power consumption, and while that sounds a little incongruous, that remaining power is (virtually) all that is keeping NSW running as it is all transferred into NSW via the two Interconnectors between Queensland and NSW, and Queensland regularly supplies between 300MW and 1100MW into NSW.

So, just looking at that list of coal fired power plants written down on paper makes it look like a new coal fired power plant is the last thing Queensland needs.

However, when you take into account everything I wrote above about the distance from reliable power, the North of the State is actually crying out for new, steady, reliable power, and that can only be provided by large scale coal fired power. When the North of this State is so reliant upon tourism especially, and growing that tourist economy, not just in those three large cities only, but all of those tourist attractions along the Coast in the North, then a new coal fired power plant should be considered as a serious option.

Now, refer back to the top of the comments where I showed the image of the Kogan Creek Power Plant, and included some basic information about that plant. Something similar to this, only using the latest technology, a HELE plant utilising USC technology would be a perfect option to not just consider, but to actually implement, and something of similar sized Nameplate, 750MW, would be all that is required here to supply constant and reliable power to far North of Queensland, something which has now become essential if that Northern part of the State is to expand. It would probably be an even better idea to construct the plant with two Units, perhaps 500MW each, and that way, when one Unit was down for maintenance, there would still be a good supply from the second Unit.

So, when I hear of people scoffing at this idea, for whatever reason, it’s painfully obvious to me that they know very little about power generation as a whole, and the way that power is being consumed.

Commercial Solar Plants and Rooftop Solar Power

Some of you may have wondered why I have not included Commercial Solar Plants and Rooftop Solar Power in this data.

Here, across the whole of Australia, there are only five Commercial Solar Plants with a total Nameplate of 266MW. At the peak of their power generation, they are currently generating around 240MW, and that 240MW is barely for a three hour period of time around Midday. So, even at that maximum at that time, they are only managing to supply 1.1% of the actual consumption of power. When averaged across the hours of that solar power generation, between 6AM when it rises from zero, till around 6PM when it falls back to zero, that power generation makes a little under half of one percent of actual power consumption, so it is negligible at best. Note I mentioned that is during the hours of (daylight) power generation so, with zero power at night then that percentage of supply falls to less than one quarter of one percent. That will rise a little in Summer, but even averaged across a whole year, Commercial Solar Plants would barely be contributing 0.3% towards total power consumption.

Much store is placed in how rooftop solar power is taking the stress out of the power system, but again, that is also overblown hype as well.The image at right shows the total power generation from all the rooftop solar panels across Australia on Friday 10th November 2017. While the image is small here, if you click on the image, it will open in a new and larger window so you can see it with better detail. The solid black line is the total power being generated, and the coloured lines below that indicate the total from each of those five States in the coverage area, as indicated under the graph itself.

It might look impressive at Midday, when rooftop solar power is actually generating 2800MW, but be very careful as you read that, because that is a peak that lasts less than one hour, and even then that is a momentary total of around 11% of power actually being consumed at the same time across the whole of this coverage area. At either side of that one point in time peak, it falls away dramatically.  As I mentioned, that figure of 2800MW seems impressive, because a large scale coal fired plant like Bayswater only has a Nameplate of 2640MW. However, what needs to be realised here is that this rooftop solar generation is not from one large plant, but is from perhaps close to a Million tiny little generators, and it is spread across the whole Country, so a vast coverage area.

That peak there of 2800MW is the current total around Midday, when total power consumption is around 24,000MW, but, as I mentioned in the Summer Months, the load curve profile changes, and Summer power consumption at that time can be as high as 30000MW and even higher, so that rooftop solar percentage falls to around 9%. When averaged across those hours of generation, it is only 5% of consumption, and across the full 24 hour period, it’s barely 2.5% of that consumption. Considering that two thirds to three quarters of that power is being consumed by the homes with the panels on the roof, that percentage of power being fed back to the grid now looks decidedly poor at around 0.6% of what is being used by every other consumer in the Country, and as I mentioned, that is power being generated across the whole of this coverage area, so minute amounts in local areas. Even as a whole for one State alone, the only State where it might show up is in South Australia, in that post Midday period, but again, be aware that the only reason it might show up in South Australia, is because that State only consumes around 5.5% of the total power being consumed in Australia, so a smaller total would tend to show up on a smaller overall total power profile like South Australia.

So, when you add together the total for Commercial Solar power and rooftop solar power being fed back to the grids across Australia, it comes in at barely 1% of consumed power, if that.

Even considering that rooftop solar power is probably reducing the power needed for those homes with the panels, homes previously supplied by the grid, it still only comes in at only 3% to 5%, averaged just across the whole daylight period, and I might suggest that those people who control the grid, the AEMO , the Australian Energy Market Operator, would not even be considering the impact of rooftop solar power when it comes to the actual supply of power for the grids around Australia. Perhaps it might be considered in South Australia, but keep in mind here that South Australia consumes only around 5.5 % of the total power being consumed across the whole of Australia.

Either way, any form of solar power has zero effect on the Base Load of that 18000MW, because that is at 4AM, before the Sun even rises.

When it comes to that Base Load, the only reliable method of power generation which actually CAN supply that is 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.