Australian Base Load Electrical Power – Week Ending 30th December 2017

Posted on Sun 12/31/2017 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.

The Bayswater Coal Fired Power Plant In New South Wales

Here in Australia, that level of power is 18,000MW.

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 24th December 2017

New South Wales – 6650MW (Coal Fired Power – 4900MW)

Queensland – 5460MW (Coal Fired Power – 5200MW)

Victoria – 3530MW (Coal Fired Power – 4500MW)

South Australia – 970MW

Tasmania – 970MW

Total – 17580MW

Fossil Fuel – 16000MW (Total coal fired power – 14600MW  – 83% of the overall total of 17580MW)

Hydro – 300MW

Wind – 1900MW (10.8% of the total)

Renewable power – 12.5% of the total.

Sunday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24120MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18300MW (75.9%)

Monday 25th December 2017

New South Wales – 6030MW (Coal Fired Power – 4300MW)

Queensland – 5160MW (Coal Fired Power – 5200MW)

Victoria – 3240MW (Coal Fired Power – 4000MW)

South Australia – 970MW

Tasmania – 950MW

Total – 16350MW

Fossil Fuel – 14500MW (Total coal fired power – 13500MW  – 82.6% of the overall total of 16350MW)

Hydro – 400MW

Wind – 2000MW (12.2% of the total)

Renewable power – 14.7% of the total.

Monday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 18750MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 16700MW (89.1%)

Tuesday 26th December 2017

New South Wales – 5600MW (Coal Fired Power – 4000MW)

Queensland – 5060MW (Coal Fired Power – 5200MW)

Victoria – 3340MW (Coal Fired Power – 4000MW)

South Australia – 950MW

Tasmania – 990MW

Total – 15940MW

Fossil Fuel – 14000MW (Total coal fired power – 13200MW  – 82.8% of the overall total of 15940MW)

Hydro – 400MW

Wind – 1700MW (10.7% of the total)

Renewable power – 13.2% of the total.

Tuesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 22820MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18500MW (81.1%)

Wednesday 27th December 2017

New South Wales – 5890MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Queensland – 5280MW (Coal Fired Power – 5300MW)

Victoria – 3780MW (Coal Fired Power – 3700MW)

South Australia – 1150MW

Tasmania – 960MW

Total – 17060MW

Fossil Fuel – 15200MW (Total coal fired power – 14000MW  – 82.1% of the overall total of 17060MW)

Hydro – 340MW

Wind – 1800MW (10.6% of the total)

Renewable power – 12.5% of the total.

Wednesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 26640MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 19700MW (73.9%)

Thursday 28th December 2017

New South Wales – 6190MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Queensland – 5590MW (Coal Fired Power – 5500MW)

Victoria – 4390MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

South Australia – 1290MW

Tasmania – 1040MW

Total – 18500MW

Fossil Fuel – 17000MW (Total coal fired power – 15700MW  – 84.9% of the overall total of 18500MW)

Hydro – 500MW

Wind – 600MW (3.2% of the total)

Renewable power – 5.9% of the total.

Thursday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 26960MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 19800MW (73.4%)

Friday 29th December 2017

New South Wales – 6550MW (Coal Fired Power – 6000MW)

Queensland – 5650MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 4180MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

South Australia – 1140MW

Tasmania – 1040MW

Total – 18560MW

Fossil Fuel – 17500MW (Total coal fired power – 16300MW  – 87.8% of the overall total of 18560MW)

Hydro – 500MW

Wind – 350MW (1.9% of the total)

Renewable power – 4.6% of the total.

Friday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25850MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 20200MW (78.1%)

Saturday 30th December 2017

New South Wales – 6590MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Queensland – 5550MW (Coal Fired Power – 5400MW)

Victoria – 3560MW (Coal Fired Power – 4500MW)

South Australia – 910MW

Tasmania – 980MW

Total – 17590MW

Fossil Fuel – 15800MW (Total coal fired power – 14900MW  – 84.7% of the overall total of 17590MW)

Hydro – 350MW

Wind – 2400MW (13.6% of the total)

Renewable power – 15.6% of the total.

Saturday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23950MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 19900MW (83.1%)


This Week’s Average For Base Load – 17369MW

This Week’s Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14600MW – 84.1%

Running Weekly Average For Base Load – 17919MW

Running Weekly Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14344MW – 80%


Comments For This Last Week

This last week, the Base Load average for the week fell, and for a specific reason. That was Christmas Day, Monday, and something unique here in Australia, the following day, Tuesday, Boxing Day, which unlike most Countries, is a designated Public Holiday here in Australia. Total power consumption, both at that 4AM time (where power consumption is lowest) and then throughout the day, power consumption dropped, and dropped by significant amounts, and that can be seen by the Base Load totals at 4AM, when on Christmas Day, it was down by 1500MW, and the following day by almost 2000MW on the average. However, after those two days, power consumption totals again rose to their normal levels, and by the Thursday morning, that Base Load was back above that 18000MW average total.

Coal fired power during this week averaged just on 84% at that 4AM minimum Base Load time, so while overall average consumption dropped, coal fired power took up most of the power delivery, and that was also reflected throughout almost every day, where, even at the Peak Power time, the average supplied by coal fired power was up almost at 80%, when the usual average is somewhat closer to the high 60s to low 70s percent. For virtually the whole week, there were only 3 of the 49 Units off line, so every other Unit was generating power.

Wind power, while averaging just 9% at that 4AM Base Load time was again up and down with some days over 10% and two days lower than 3.2%, and as is the case with Wind Power, when actual consumption is at its lowest total, then that logically shows wind power at a higher percentage level, as during the day, as power consumption rises, sometimes considerably, then that percentage figure for wind power falls away, and, as I have also noticed over the now ten years I have been doing all this, wind power shows its best power generation during that early morning period between midnight and 5AM, and as soon as the day dawns, in most cases, wind power generation falls away. This again highlights the variability of wind power and how it cannot be relied upon as a constant and reliable source of power generation, unlike coal fired power, which actually can ramp up and down to follow the Load, and to always be there when power is actually needed.

The Anomaly Of Christmas Day Power Consumption

As I mentioned, I have now been writing about electrical power generation in all its forms for ten years now. As part of that, I have been using power generation data from a number of sources to do that. One thing I did notice at the end of that first year was an anomaly on Christmas Day, when I noticed that power consumption dropped by a pretty huge amount across the whole day. In the continuing task of looking at power generation and writing about it, I didn’t take too much notice of that, well, I suppose I just forgot about it. Anyway, the following year, I again noticed that power consumption dropped dramatically on Christmas Day. That triggered the memory from the previous year, so now alerted, I went back and found that earlier Load Curve for that previous year’s Christmas Day and compared the two Load Curves I now had, both similar and both showing a huge drop across the whole day for power consumption. I saved images of (now) both Load Curves, and each successive year, I added a new image for that year’s Christmas Day.

By now, I knew a lot more about power generation and consumption, so I had a pretty good idea why it was indeed so much lower.

Now that I am doing this data collection and analysis, it gives me somewhere to explain a little more about it, and why it drops so dramatically, and to include some images to show you what happens.

As I explained in the original Introductory Post for this Series, Power generation and its consumption varies according to the Season during the year, and that is shown with Load Curves. At that original Post (at this link) I showed generic images of Summer and Winter Load Curves, and they are shown about half way down in that Post.

(With each of the images shown below, if you click on them, they will open in a larger format on a new tab, so it will be a little easier to see detail)

So, this first image shows power consumption for a typical Summer Day (as it is currently Summer here in Australia) and so as better to compare it with the Christmas Day Load Curve, this is for the same day (Monday) one week prior to Christmas Day. (also on a Monday this year) Now, while this image just shows the power generation for all fossil fuel generators, this makes up almost 95% of all power generation and consequently consumption, and as both are for the same fossil fuel generation, they can be used for the purpose of comparison. Note here that this Load Curve shows the same shape as a typical Summer Load Curve does.

Note the shape of the curve, how it reaches a single Peak late in the afternoon, at around 4PM or so, when power consumption is at its highest, hence power generation also needs to be at its highest, That Peak here is a tick over 26000MW, and while this shows just fossil fuel generation, the actual total power consumption for that day, at that time was 30130MW. Note also the Base Load at 4AM shown on this image as around 17000MW just for fossil fuels, and the actual Base Load at that time on this day was 18920MW.

Now, look at this next image below, showing the same thing for the following Monday, Christmas Day. Note here, that while still in Summer, this Load Curve bears a closer similarity with a typical Winter Load curve, with a peak in the early AM, then a dip in power consumption, and then rising back to the evening Peak Power time.


Note now the left side vertical axis indicating power totals, and as you can plainly see, power totals were lower than for the previous Monday, and by a huge amount across the whole day. The Base Load here shows around 14500MW (here, just from fossil fuels) and the actual consumption at that 4AM Base Load minimum was 16350MW, compared to 18920MW a week before, so on Christmas morning the Base Load was 2600MW less. The Peak shown here is a little after 6PM, and is a little under 18000MW and the Peak power consumption for Christmas Day was 18750MW, and as the data above shows, coal fired power alone was delivering almost 90% of that total. The Peak on the previous Monday was 30130MW so Peak Power consumption on Christmas Day was 11380MW lower, and read that figure again, more than eleven thousand MegaWatts lower.

However, of even more interest is that dip on Christmas Day, and the low point of that dip is around 2PM, mid afternoon on both days. A comparison here at the same time shows Christmas Day with a total consumption of 17330MW, and the week before it was 29150MW, and that’s 11,820MW lower. Almost 12000MW lower. That’s a huge amount of power.

I mentioned earlier that I have been keeping these Christmas Day Load Curves since 2009 now, so this makes nine of them that I can refer to, so is this year’s much different from them?

Well, no, it isn’t because all of them show almost the same shape for the Load Curve image and around the same totals well. So, what I did was to go back over them and look at that particular time of 2PM, mid afternoon on a typical hot Summer’s Day on Christmas Day. Note from these figures the relative similarity between them.

2009 – 18000MW
2010 – 18500MW
2011 – 19000MW
2012 – 19000MW
2013 – 18500MW
2014 – 18500MW
2015 – 18000MW
2016 – 18000MW
2017 – 17330MW

Now, while these figures are somewhat similar in nature, there are a couple of things to point out. Note how the first one there is from 2009. That was almost ten years ago now, and it has only been in the last five years or even less that two things have happened. There has been an upsurge in the fitment of air conditioning units in homes, and there has also been an upsurge (in the last two to three years especially) of the installation of rooftop solar panels at a household level. One of these things adds to the usage of electrical power in the home, the air conditioning, and the other would tend to lower the overall power consumption in homes. Air conditioning on the relatively small scale of the private home is now a lot more efficient than it was even five to ten years ago, so power consumption there would be lower than on the same scale in those earlier years. Having explained that, those figures for power consumption are not all that different from Christmas 2009 to Christmas 2017, at least on a scale that might be termed as significant, and it could be argued that one cancels out the other when it comes to overall power consumption. Either way, the main thing here is that power consumption across the whole day has decreased, and in a huge manner.

So, arguably, we have the single one day of the year when Residential power consumption should be, and in fact is at its absolute highest, because all workplaces are shut down, and realistically, everyone is at home, so in all probability, in this Summer heat, those who have air conditioning in their homes do have it turned on, and these two Load Curves forever dispel the theory that air conditioning units in private homes are what is causing those huge power peaks in Summer, just by comparing those two Load Curves.

Consider also the lowering of power across the board. No-one is at work, and no Industry is working either, other than basic shifts at mines etc. There’s no Commerce working either, and in all those tall buildings in cities, those big Units on the roof are just slowly cycling their compressors, because the building is nowhere near as hot inside as it is during the working week, and is now shut up, so it has nowhere near the internal heat, now operating as a closed system.

It’s the same with shopping Malls, also huge power users, and also shut up tight, so again, there is nowhere near the internal heat inside those structures , normally full of people with all entrances open, and work going on inside them. The same applies with the supermarkets here in Australia, Coles and Woolworths, and there are many hundreds each of these both, and all of them are closed for Christmas Day, so there are no customers opening and closing those doors to their huge banks of fridges and cold storage areas, so again, the compressors for all of the are all ‘having a bit of a rest’, not required to work anywhere near as hard as they usually do.

So, Industrial and Commercial power consumption is way way down. The only thing which is UP, and way up, is residential power consumption, and even that is realistically actually lower, and let me explain why.

Those who have air conditioning in their homes usually wait till they get home from work on normal working days, and when they arrive home and come inside and turn the ‘air’ on, the inside of the home is like an oven, and the compressors, and inverters now, but mainly the compressors, have to work overtime, all of them huge power consumers, working flat out for extended time to cool down from very hot.

On this one day of the year, the ‘air’ gets turned on early in the (relative) cool of the morning, and in that manner, the inverters can carry over during the rest of the day, and the compressors hardly cycle at all, hence their power consumption is actually lower than trying to cool down a very hot home.

Either way, power consumption on this one hot day is humungously lower than it normally is, and it’s an easy thing to show you with those Load Curves.

At the Peak on Christmas Day, coal fired power was supplying almost 90% of that total power, and except for Victoria, all Units were operating at a derated level from their maximum generation.

I have included these next two images because they show actual power consumption. These are just the Load Curves for the biggest State in Australia, New South Wales, which has by far the largest power consumption of all the States. The top image is for Christmas Day, and the image below that is for the preceding Friday, a normal working day. The darker coloured line is the cost of power and the lighter coloured line is the actual Load Curve for power consumption in that State. These images are taken from the Australian power regulator, the AEMO. I have placed the mouse over the time when there was Peak power consumption on the Friday working day, and that was at 4.25PM, and I did the same for Christmas Day. As you can see, the total power consumption at that one point in time was almost 3000MW lower on Christmas Day, just in this one State.

As you can see from the images and then from reading the text I have here, there is a good reason why power consumption is lower on this one day of the year, and from that I have explained the facts which tend to dispel myths when it comes to power generation and its consumption. Those myths are perpetuated by people who have not bothered to look at data and then ask questions as to why things like this show those myths up as just that, myths.

Either way, it is always coal fired power which performs the best, not only on this one day of such huge reduction power consumption, but on every day, especially when huge amounts of power are needed, again emphasising what I have always said, that when it comes to coal fired power, there really is just 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.