Australian Base Load Electrical Power – Week Ending 10th March 2018

Posted on Sun 03/11/2018 by


By Anton Lang ~

Week 36

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. (See data for the Running Weekly Average For Base Load below)

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 4th March 2018

New South Wales – 6220MW (Coal Fired Power – 5000MW)

Queensland – 5630MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 3780MW (Coal Fired Power – 4400MW)

South Australia – 1110MW

Tasmania – 980MW

Total – 17720MW

Fossil Fuel – 16200MW (Total coal fired power – 15100MW  – 85.2% of the overall total of 17720MW)

Hydro – 400MW

Wind – 1200MW (6.8% of the total)

Renewable power – 9% of the total.

Sunday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24030MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18900MW (78.7%)

Monday 5th March 2018

New South Wales – 6600MW (Coal Fired Power – 5100MW)

Queensland – 5690MW (Coal Fired Power – 5700MW)

Victoria – 3950MW (Coal Fired Power – 4400MW)

South Australia – 1120MW

Tasmania – 1030MW

Total – 18390MW

Fossil Fuel – 16700MW (Total coal fired power – 15200MW  – 82.7% of the overall total of 18390MW)

Hydro – 450MW

Wind – 1300MW (7.1% of the total)

Renewable power – 9.5% of the total.

Monday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24540MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18700MW (76.2%)

Tuesday 6th March 2018

New South Wales – 6390MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

Queensland – 5610MW (Coal Fired Power – 5300MW)

Victoria – 3950MW (Coal Fired Power – 4400MW)

South Australia – 1120MW

Tasmania – 980MW

Total – 18050MW

Fossil Fuel – 15500MW (Total coal fired power – 14300MW  – 79.2% of the overall total of 18050MW)

Hydro – 400MW

Wind – 2400MW (13.3% of the total)

Renewable power – 15.5% of the total.

Tuesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 23780MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18100MW (76.1%)

Wednesday 7th March 2018

New South Wales – 6440MW (Coal Fired Power – 4100MW)

Queensland – 5320MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Victoria – 4010MW (Coal Fired Power – 4400MW)

South Australia – 1100MW

Tasmania – 970MW

Total – 17840MW

Fossil Fuel – 15500MW (Total coal fired power – 14100MW  – 79% of the overall total of 17840MW)

Hydro – 400MW

Wind – 2100MW (11.8% of the total)

Renewable power – 14% of the total.

Wednesday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24900MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 18500MW (74.2%)

Thursday 8th March 2018

New South Wales – 6440MW (Coal Fired Power – 4500MW)

Queensland – 5390MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Victoria – 4270MW (Coal Fired Power – 4600MW)

South Australia – 1150MW

Tasmania – 1020MW

Total – 18270MW

Fossil Fuel – 16400MW (Total coal fired power – 14700MW  – 80.5% of the overall total of 18270MW)

Hydro – 500MW

Wind – 1400MW (7.7% of the total)

Renewable power – 10.4% of the total.

Thursday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25700MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 19100MW (74.3%)

Friday 9th March 2018

New South Wales – 6640MW (Coal Fired Power – 5200MW)

Queensland – 5340MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Victoria – 4210MW (Coal Fired Power – 3800MW)

South Australia – 1240MW

Tasmania – 990MW

Total – 18420MW

Fossil Fuel – 16800MW (Total coal fired power – 14600MW  – 79.3% of the overall total of 18420MW)

Hydro – 400MW

Wind – 1400MW (7.6% of the total)

Renewable power – 9.8% of the total.

Friday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 25490MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17800MW (69.8%)

Saturday 10th March 2018

New South Wales – 6180MW (Coal Fired Power – 5200MW)

Queensland – 5230MW (Coal Fired Power – 5600MW)

Victoria – 3930MW (Coal Fired Power – 3100MW)

South Australia – 1170MW

Tasmania – 950MW

Total – 17460MW

Fossil Fuel – 15700MW (Total coal fired power – 13900MW  – 79.6% of the overall total of 17460MW)

Hydro – 650MW

Wind – 1350MW (7.7% of the total)

Renewable power – 11.5% of the total.

Saturday Peak Power at 6PM – Total Power Consumption – 24590MW and Coal Fired Power supplied 17700MW (72%)


This Week’s Average For Base Load – 18022MW

This Week’s Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14558MW – 80.8%

Running Weekly Average For Base Load – 18088MW

Running Weekly Average For Base Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 14628MW – 80.9%


This Week’s Average For Peak Load – 24719MW

This Week’s Average For Peak Load Supplied from Coal Fired Power – 18400MW – 74.4%


Comments For This Last Week

With Summer now ended, and the move to the more benign Months of Autumn, there is not as much pressure on the grids to supply huge amounts of power that are so much higher in those Summer Months. That is more noticeable in the slight falling away of the Peak Load in the late afternoons, and this week that average Peak Load for the week has fallen by around 700MW from last week, but there were some weeks in Summer when the average was up around 29000MW, almost 5000MW higher than the average for this last week.

Now, while that Peak consumption varies on a larger scale, the Base Load at the time of minimum power consumption, (4AM) stays virtually static around that average figure of 18000MW. The change is so minimal as to be barely seen. While all the conversation about electrical power centres around the large afternoon Peaks, there is nothing said about the minimum Base Load, and while large Peaks are of concern to some, the total ignoring of that Base Load figure is something that should be discussed, because I would almost guarantee that very few people are aware of it. Look again at that Base Load figure of 18000MW and then compare that to the average Peak Power figures. That Base Load is around 72% of the Peak when it is low, and above 65% when it is high, like in Summer and Winter. So, it’s not the major point of where to we get that power from to cover those Peaks, but where does the power come from to cover that Base Load, which is ALL THE TIME, because even though the Peak rises to those figures it is from a BASE of that 18000MW, power which is required constantly, and on a regular basis.

Again, as the heat of Summer passes, the need for all those power plants to be available to supply drops away a little, and more Units can be taken off the grid for maintenance purposes, and this week that was the case with between five and six Units taken out of service, and again it was a further case of take one down, do the work, and then bring it back on line, and as it comes back on line, another Unit in another part of the Country is taken off line. Even so, note that at that 4AM time, coal fired power is still delivering 80% and more of all the power being needed for consumption.

The Case Of The Two Units Which Failed In Victoria This Week

This could have been a catastrophe, and in fact, one site did make that point to pursue their own agenda, but I would like to show you something here about just how resilient the Grid really is, and how quickly and efficiently something like this is handled, and in this case, how it was actually handled.

At 4.30AM on Thursday morning, one of the two Units at the Loy Yang B plant failed. (Unit 1) At the same time as it failed, it caused a huge spike as other plants tried to take up the loss. This spike caused Unit 2 at the nearby Loy Yang A Plant, which has four Units. Both Units immediately stopped generating power. The other three Units at Loy Yang A and one unit at Loy Yang B kept operating as normal after things settled down almost immediately. So here we had two of six Units at the Loy Yang complex off line, and this immediately took away 1060MW from the grid in Victoria, a pretty large loss of power generating capability.

If anything about this could be called fortuitous, it was that this happened almost right on the lowest point for power consumption, and at that time, the State of Victoria was only consuming 4270MW, as can be seen from the data above for Thursday, and for Victoria, and those figures there were taken just prior to this failure. As you can see from the coal fired number for that same time, all 10 Units in the State of Victoria were operational and delivering 4600MW, and this failure took out 1060MW from that total, immediately.

These two images below show that failure. (while these images are small to fit on the page, if you click on each image, it will open in a new and larger window so you can better see the detail)





The image at left shows just the failure of those two Units, both generating 530MW prior to the failure. The orange line indicates the Loy Yang B Unit One and the purple line indicates the Loy Yang A Unit Two. As you can see, the B1 Unit (orange) failed and stayed down, while the A2 Unit (purple) failed, and then came back on line at 10AM, five and a half hours later.

The image at right shows the total for all ten Units from the remaining three Coal Fired Plants in Victoria. As you can see here, the total power dropped by that figure of 1060MW in an instant.

While this is indeed a major failure, I can show you how effectively this situation was handled by the people in charge of controlling operations for the Australian grid.

However, having said that, it is an easy thing to point to a failure of this magnitude, and make it out to be pretty much of a catastrophe, especially if you have a ‘barrow’ to push for a separate agenda, and this was done by one of the sites which does have a barrow to push, the barrow for renewable power.

These are just a couple of extracts from  an article at the RenewEconomy site. The opening comment was this:

If the federal Coalition wants to turn to Australia’s ageing coal plants for reliability, let’s hope they know where to find some decent back-up.

A little further down in the same article, this was mentioned:

At least they didn’t fail in the midst of a heatwave. As it turned out, demand was low (but growing as the population slowly awakened and switched stuff on).

However, the outage did cause prices to double in Victoria as traders profited from the sudden scarcity, with the same impact passed on to South Australia’s electricity market, and to a lesser extent in NSW.

These are the 43rd and 44th trip of a major coal-fired unit in the Australian grid since the start of summer, according to The Australia’s Institute Coal and Gas Watch. Seven have occurred in March alone.

And they were the 12th and 13th suffered since Christmas by big brown coal generators, making a mockery of the federal government’s focus on coal-fired generation as a guarantor of “reliability”.

Wind and solar are criticised by the country’s energy minister Josh Frydenberg as “intermittent” – but at least with the case of wind and solar their variability is predictable. The same cannot be said of the coal fleet, or even some gas units when the going gets really hot.

Notice in that first quote, the word ‘aging’ when referencing these coal fired power plants. I seriously wonder if people who write things like this have done any background checking. True, these Units at this Loy Yang complex are indeed quite old. Loy Yang A (where Unit 2 failed) is 33 years old, and Loy Yang B (where Unit 1 failed) is 25 years old. Large scale coal fired power plants of this nature typically have a lifespan of 50 years, some of them longer than that, as evidenced by the now closed Hazelwood plant which was 53 years old when it closed down. Either way, old or only just over half their operational lives, both of these Units have ALREADY been in operation for longer than the projected life span for ANY form of Wind or Solar Power, which typically have been quoted as having a life span of 25 years, although that figure is more of a best case hope, as some wind plants might only make 15 years old, and at the hoped for 25 years, if they do make it, they will be generating considerably less power than any Unit at any coal fired plant on a percentage power basis. (with reference to new)

The first line of the second quote partly alludes to that minimum power requirement at 4AM Base Load reference point I use, but again, in an offhand way, with no clarifying text as an explanation.

The second para indicates that profiteers stepped in to somehow cash in on this situation. This is false, as the only increase in costs was caused by the fact that now, more expensive power plants were needed to come on line to cover that huge loss, and that caused a minor increase in costs, considering that this was at 4.30AM, and not during the Peak of the afternoon, when power consumption and its supply is further stressed.

The third and fourth paras indicate that these plants are somehow ‘incredibly’ prone to failure, using those large numbers as they have here. Virtually every single one of those ‘trips’ that they mention are when Units were taken out of service for scheduled maintenance, carefully planned, noted, and covered for by other plants to make up for the lost power. They have NOTHING to do with the site’s allusion to a lack of reliability.

The last para mentions the intermittency of wind and solar and how it is (somehow) predictable. A predictable intermittency ….. WHEN.

Okay then now, having painted the picture of catastrophe that they did, let’s actually look at what happened as a result of this failure, and you can see just how well the situation was addressed.

The following three images, and the text below them will show just that. (and also here, while these images are small to fit on the page, if you click on each image, it will open in a new and larger window so you can better see the detail)


All three of these images are just for the State of Victoria where this event occurred.

The image at left shows the gas fired plants which came on line as soon as possible after this event to add power into the grid. The second image shows the Hydro plants which also came on line to cover the loss, and the third image shows how much wind power was supplying at the time of this event.

Firstly, keep in mind that all this happened at 4.30AM, and that just coal fired power alone was generating all the power being consumed in the State, PLUS an extra 330MW which was being exported to the three surrounding States in varying amounts via the separate Interconnectors to those States. So, firstly, because Victoria (the home State) now needed that exported power immediately to cover their own loss, that exported power was called back for consumption in Victoria.

Gas Fired Power

The left image shows the gas fired plants which came on line, almost immediately. Grid controllers, now fully aware of the situation immediately got those working operators at each plant to bring their plants on line. Not one gas fired plant in Victoria was on line at the time, as all power requirements were being filled with the available coal fired power.

Some time between 4.30AM and 5AM, the Mortlake gas fired plant came on line, delivering 283MW of power. That is the thin black line you can see there across the small spike shown by the solid black thicker line. At 5AM, two gas fired Units at the Jeeralang B plant also came on line, delivering 84MW each for a total of 168MW, so now, at just on 6AM, gas fired power had added 440MW in total.

Hydro Power

The middle image shows the Hydro plants which came on line to top up the missing power. Again, as with the gas fired power, no hydro plants in Victoria were delivering power to the Victorian grid at the time of this event.

Almost immediately the event occurred, at just after 4.30, the huge Murry Hydro plant, one of the largest Hydro plants in the Country at 1500MW had one of its Units come on line enough to deliver 70MW into the system. At the same time, (4.30AM) the McKay Hydro also came on line, delivering 283MW into the system. At 5AM, three small Units, each of just 14MW also came on line, one at Clover, and the two at West Kiewa, adding a further 42MW, now taking the total from Hydro at 5AM up to just under 400MW.

From then on, even more hydro plants in Victoria came on line to cope with the normal morning rise in consumption, as can be seen from that image, the thicker black line, indicating the total from Hydro Power.

So, within an hour of the event, we now had replacement power of 840MW from both gas fired plants and hydro plants, and with that added to the 330MW called back from the Interconnectors, gives Victoria a total of 1170MW, which now fully covered the loss of that 1060MW from the two coal fired Units.

Wind Power

The right image shows wind power generation for the time of the event and immediately following the event. At that 4.30 time of the failure of the coal fired Units, wind power was generating 140MW, which then proceeded to fall away even further, until, around 7AM, almost at the morning Peak, Wind power was generating 70MW. All of that 70MW is from a total in Victoria of  just on 1800MW, so of all those wind towers in Victoria, only one in thirteen was actually turning over at the time of this event, 4.30AM, when the Wind total was that figure of 140MW.

Now, usually, coal fired power covers most of the early morning requirements for the State, but now, as that was missing, more Hydro, and more gas fired plants were called into action to cover the now rising consumption as people got out of bed and made ready for the day ahead.

So, in the washup for this event, it can be seen (contrary to the renewable site’s statement at their article) that when coal fired Units do go offline, then a carefully practiced procedure comes into play to ensure that the power stays connected, even after what seems to be a pretty catastrophic event of this nature.

I would be willing to wager that 99.9% of the population of Victoria was blissfully and totally unaware as to what happened. What did happen was the efficient operation of a complex grid covering a vast area was handled with great skill.

At 4.30AM, there was NO solar power. There was very little wind power, so intermittent as to be be almost completely missing.

The Backup power was in place, and was called immediately into action.

This was no failure of catastrophic proportions and was not solved by renewable power, In fact renewable power of choice, wind and solar made no impact at all.

And finally, as I found out much later, the failure of those two coal fired Units actually occurred first with the Unit at Loy Yang B, and it was not due to the Unit at the power station. The failure was the high voltage transmission equipment that connects it to the grid. When this had the problem, it caused a spike which then threw Loy Yang A Unit 2 off line as well. The coal fired Unit did not fail.

Coal fired power is robust  enough to be able to cope with situations like this, as shown when the second Unit came back on line after less than 6 hours. The Unit at Loy Yang B is still down, but again, the problem was with the transmission equipment, and once that is fixed, this Unit will be back on line, generating power long into the future, further emphasising the point I have always made, that when it comes to 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.