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

Posted on Sun 12/24/2017 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 December 2017

New South Wales – 7120MW (Coal Fired Power – 5300MW)

Queensland – 5410MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Victoria – 3660MW (Coal Fired Power – 4200MW)

South Australia – 1010MW

Tasmania – 940MW

Total – 18140MW

Fossil Fuel – 16600MW (Total coal fired power – 15100MW  – 83.2% of the overall total of 18140MW)

Hydro – 360MW

Wind – 1500MW (8.3% of the total)

Renewable power – 10.3% of the total.

Sunday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24860MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18700MW (75.2%)

Monday 18th December 2017

New South Wales – 7010MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Queensland – 5520MW (Coal Fired Power – 6000MW)

Victoria – 4230MW (Coal Fired Power – 4100MW)

South Australia – 1260MW

Tasmania – 900MW

Total – 18920MW

Fossil Fuel – 17000MW (Total coal fired power – 15100MW  – 79.8% of the overall total of 18920MW)

Hydro – 500MW

Wind – 1450MW (7.7% of the total)

Renewable power – 10.3% of the total.

Monday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 30130MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 20000MW (66.4%)

Tuesday 19th December 2017

New South Wales – 7570MW (Coal Fired Power – 5400MW)

Queensland – 5830MW (Coal Fired Power – 6100MW)

Victoria – 4440MW (Coal Fired Power – 4100MW)

South Australia – 1290MW

Tasmania – 910MW

Total – 20040MW

Fossil Fuel – 17800MW (Total coal fired power – 15600MW  – 77.8% of the overall total of 20040MW)

Hydro – 750MW

Wind – 2100MW (10.5% of the total)

Renewable power – 14.2% of the total.

Tuesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 32020MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 19800MW (61.8%)

Wednesday 20th December 2017

New South Wales – 8220MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Queensland – 5640MW (Coal Fired Power – 6000MW)

Victoria – 4050MW (Coal Fired Power – 4100MW)

South Australia – 1020MW

Tasmania – 920MW

Total – 19850MW

Fossil Fuel – 18000MW (Total coal fired power – 15700MW  – 79.1% of the overall total of 19850MW)

Hydro – 300MW

Wind – 2000MW (10.1% of the total)

Renewable power – 11.6% of the total.

Wednesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 28790MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 19400MW (67.4%)

Thursday 21st December 2017

New South Wales – 7330MW (Coal Fired Power – 6000MW)

Queensland – 5800MW (Coal Fired Power – 6200MW)

Victoria – 4090MW (Coal Fired Power – 4100MW)

South Australia – 1180MW

Tasmania – 990MW

Total – 19390MW

Fossil Fuel – 18000MW (Total coal fired power – 16300MW  – 84.1% of the overall total of 19390MW)

Hydro – 500MW

Wind – 600MW (3.1% of the total)

Renewable power – 5.7% of the total.

Thursday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25040MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 19200MW (76.7%)

Friday 22nd December 2017

New South Wales – 6800MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Queensland – 5790MW (Coal Fired Power – 6100MW)

Victoria – 4070MW (Coal Fired Power – 4200MW)

South Australia – 1150MW

Tasmania – 1030MW

Total – 18840MW

Fossil Fuel – 17800MW (Total coal fired power – 16000MW  – 84.9% of the overall total of 18840MW)

Hydro – 500MW

Wind – 550MW (2.9% of the total)

Renewable power – 5.6% of the total.

Friday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25480MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 20200MW (79.3%)

Saturday 23rd December 2017

New South Wales – 6320MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Queensland – 5640MW (Coal Fired Power – 5900MW)

Victoria – 3890MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

South Australia – 1050MW

Tasmania – 980MW

Total – 17880MW

Fossil Fuel – 17000MW (Total coal fired power – 15500MW  – 86.7% of the overall total of 17880MW)

Hydro – 350MW

Wind – 650MW (3.6% of the total)

Renewable power – 5.6% of the total.

Saturday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25980MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 19700MW (75.8%)


This Week’s Average For Base Load – 19009MW

This Week’s Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 15614MW – 82.1%

Running Weekly Average For Base Load – 17941MW

Running Weekly Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14333MW – 79.9%


Comments For This Last Week

As you can see from the data directly above, the Base Load for power consumption at 4AM rose considerably this last week, and the average for the week was actually over 19000MW, and on the Tuesday morning, it was actually over 20000MW, and that’s something I have not seen before. To cover that large total, every coal fired unit which could be online was online, and for most of the week, only three units were down, and one of those came back up late on the Thursday, so for Friday and Saturday only two Units in the Country were off line, both in NSW, one Unit each at Mt.Piper and Liddell. There are only 49 Units at the 16 remaining coal fired power plants in the Country.

Note on the Friday the Peak Power consumption was 25480MW and coal fired power was delivering 20200MW of that total, so almost 80% of that required power was coming from coal fired sources. With only 2 Units offline, that left a total Nameplate of 21820MW so those remaining 47 Units were generating their power at a Capacity Factor of 92.6%. What that means, taking into account that some of those older Units cannot make their Nameplate because of age, was that every coal fired Unit in operation was running at, or close to its maximum, delivering every watt of power that it could generate.

Note also, that even at that 4AM time when power consumption is at its lowest, coal fired power delivered an average of just over 82% of that total needed for the week, with a high of 86.7%. Some of those plants, especially in NSW and Victoria, are between 30 and 40 years old, so to be able to actually generate at or near their maximum for such long periods is amazing, and something that they get no credit for, a testament to the people who actually work at those plants, keeping them at such a high state of operation.

Having said that coal fired power was reliably delivering so much power during the week, look at the totals for wind power at that same 4AM point in time. The average for the week was 6.6% of what was required, with a high of 10.5%, but for the last three days of the week, that average was lower than 3.6% on all three days. Even when it is as high as that figure of 10.5% it’s still not enough to even add much to the total, and you can also notice from the data that no matter how high, or low wind power is, it makes no difference to what coal fired power is delivering, and therein lies a truism, that when absolute amounts of power are required, then those who control power delivery for the grid are not reliant on how much power wind is supplying. If it’s there, well and good, and if it’s not, it doesn’t matter because they always have enough power from those reliable sources. Now also worth noting here is that this data is for that minimum consumption time, and as you can see, power consumption rises dramatically throughout the day, so that when the Peak arrives, the actual power being delivered from wind can be as low as one percent of that total on low days, and even on good days the power delivered from wind is barely as high as 6% of what is required. This again highlights the fact that wind power is unreliable when it comes to the provision of a steady amount of power, something that is not of any consequence when it comes to coal fired power.

The Efficient Operation Of The Grid

One thing which was interesting during this last week was something which requires careful explanation. It shows so well how refined the operation of the grid really is, and how well it does actually cope when something goes wrong, and goes wrong in what is effectively a pretty big way.

On the Monday, at 5.30PM one of the large Units at the Eraring Plant in NSW dropped off line.

This large coal fired power plant has four Units, each rated at a Maximum of 720MW, so at full operation, the Plant could be generating as much as 2880MW. This is one of those older Plants I mentioned above, and it is now 35 years old. Because of that, its Units are now only delivering around 700MW at their maximum, sometimes more. The Plant, like most of these large coal fired plants, now follows the Load, generating less power at that 4AM time slot, and then ramping up during the day to their maximum at Peak time, so the plant delivers between 1600MW (at 4AM) and 2700MW at the Peak.

At 5.30PM on the Monday Unit One failed. This was not a staged outage where it comes down slowly, but an instantaneous failure where the Unit stopped generating power immediately, from 700MW down to zero in an instant, taking 700MW of power out of the system for NSW, and while just One Unit, that loss of 700MW at that time amounts to a loss of around 7% of that State’s power at Peak time, and that’s just from this one Unit.

I took a screen print of the image indicating that failure, and that is the image below.

The date is 18Dec2017, and that was the Monday. The tab to the right of the date indicates the total power in MW, and that total is indicated on the left side vertical axis. The time is indicated along the bottom horizontal axis, so the time of the failure was just before 1800, (6PM) so the failure occurred at 5.30PM. Under that image you can see the boxes indicating each separate Unit, and here I have just left ticked the box for this one Unit, here shown as ER01, the Number One Unit at the Eraring Plant, and you can see here that the power dropped from just under 700MW to zero in an instant, and was offline for around three and a half hours before being slowly brought back on line in a stepped fashion, so by Midnight, it was supplying 200MW back into the grid.

So then, how do you cover something like that without blackouts ensuing, keeping in mind that this is a ‘fair whack of power to take out of the system?

Okay then, this next image shows the pricing structure for power across the AEMO operational area of those five States, and each State has its own little structure like this, and keep in mind that this is a very basic and generic image used just for the purpose of explanation.

Note that the time scale is in five minute intervals for the half hour. All of the power in current use at the start of the half hour is indicated in the bottom colour bar there, with a much lesser amount  on the second one up from the bottom. As power consumption increases, then further smaller generators are needed to come on line to make up power to the new total, and as you can see, the top colour bar shows a smaller unit coming on line for just a short time here. The cost for the power is indicated on the right hand side vertical axis, and the total power is shown on the left side vertical axis. (again keeping in mind that this is a generic chart, hence smaller numbers than actual power consumption totals) At the end of the half hour the price is averaged out, and every entity which is online, generating and delivering power gets paid that new average amount for all the power that they delivered during that previous half hour. The colour chart then resets with the new average power as the bottom colour with all the power being consumed at that new cost. Then as more is needed, then new ones come on line according to the colour bars, or dropping off line as consumption falls, and it’s a case of the most expensive gets dropped off that colour chart first.  So, from this, you can easily see that because coal fired power is always there in such huge amounts, it is always the bottom colour on this costing chart, hence the CHEAPEST power in the market.

Now, also of note here is that this chart, while indicative, is not the hope, that if needed, our power plant can come online for you, because these plants need to take time to become ready, to start up, and then run up to speed, to reach the stage where they are ready to deliver their power which is needed. So, what happens here is that these plants are already in a state of readiness to deliver their maximum power, so that when called upon at a moments notice, during any single five minute period of time, they can proverbially ‘flick the switch’, and be delivering their maximum power, when called on to do so.

So, in each of those five States, we have a series of minor power plants already at the stage where they are ready to come online.

Now, at that specific time when the one Unit failed at Eraring, look at these three images below which show what happened at that exact time of the failure in the State where Eraring is, NSW, and the two surrounding States, Queensland to the North, and Victoria to the South.

While the images here are shown as small, to fit them all onto the page in the one aspect, if you click on each image, it will open in a new and larger window.

With each image for each State I have left the mouse hovering over that same time when the UNit at Eraring failed, 5.30PM, and that is indicated at the bottom of each image.

As you can seewhen you look at each of the three images, that time indicator shows a line right through an instantaneous spike at the exact same time that the Unit at Eraring failed.

That missing 700MW could not be made up instantly from within the same State, NSW, so extra power was needed, and that came from the two surrounding States, both Queensland and Victoria, as each of these five States in that AEMO coverage area has power sharing arrangements with each other via the Interconnectors between the States.

So what happened here was this.

NSW immediately brings on line ALL the Units waiting to come online, and also diverts power from some other areas within the State to cover the needed extra, still not enough.

Victoria also brings online all its waiting Units so that it can now supply some power into NSW, in the South of that State to make up for some of the power which has now been diverted to where it is needed the most, probably into Sydney itself, far and away the largest power consumer in the State.

Queensland also brings online all its waiting Units to supply into NSW, mainly in the North of that State to cover some diverted power from that area.

So, that missing 700MW from Eraring is now being covered by the new units in NSW, new Units in Queensland, and new Units in Victoria, enough to make up that instantaneous loss, and enough to do THAT in the same instant.

Also of interest, but not shown here is that Tasmania also brought all its waiting Units online, because they were now needed to supply into Victoria, because Victoria now had to supply into NSW to make up SOME of that missing power from Eraring.

All of those Units waiting for that extra demand to kick in now had to come online, and they had to be ready to come online at that moments notice, as this was.

See now how delicate a balance it is to keep the power on.

Now note also that when it comes to something like this, the need for REAL power, that can only be supplied by Units which can deliver power at a moment’s notice.

This was 700MW here, and no toy battery like what was recently brought into play in South Australia, will ever be able to cover that. Likewise Wind Power, and likewise solar power.

That power just HAS to be there, not maybe, but IMPERATIVE.

It doesn’t matter really. The job was carried out so efficiently, that my guess is that the only people who knew 700MW was taken out of the system would be those few people at AEMO, and life just went on.

You’ll never see anything like this explained to the public. As long as the power comes out of The proverbial ‘hole in the wall’, people will blindly believe that things run smoothly and always will run that smoothly.

This was a case where something went wrong, and it went wrong very quickly, and even then, the situation was handled so smoothly that hardly anyone at all even knew there was a problem in the first place.

All of this, both this particular problem, and the analysis of the data for the Base Load proves every week that when there is a need for vast amounts of power, it invariably can only come from coal fired power, again emphasising the fact that there just is no substitute for 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.