Heatwaves and energy supply explained

heatwave, renewables

With heatwave conditions forecast across most eastern mainland states and South Australia this week, Energy Networks Australia and the Australian Energy Council have released a fact sheet on potential impacts on the energy system.

The Australian Energy Council’s general manager policy, Ben Skinner, said electricity demand has historically been highest on hot weekdays and when business and industry is fully operating.

“The biggest risk occurs with very high demand,” Mr Skinner said. “Usually that is at the end of a run of two or more hot days.

“Buildings are already hot, there may be low output from wind generation and solar PV output declines late in the afternoon.

“Losing power even for short periods during a heatwave can cause real discomfort.

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“Electricity providers will be doing everything possible today to avoid any loss of power and have worked with AEMO to have plant available for the hotter periods.”

Energy Networks Australia CEO Andrew Dillon encouraged people to find out which company distributed electricity to their premises so they can follow them on social media and bookmark their website.

“Only one network business supplies electricity to your house or business, so follow them to get timely information specific to your local area in the event of an outage,” Mr Dillon said.

“This will ensure you’re up to date so you can plan ahead.”

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The Australian Energy Council said that individual power station generation units can and do have unplanned outages from time to time. This is normal not just for large plants here in Australia but also overseas. Power systems have back-up capacity, which is designed to manage a limited number of individual outages.

“There can also be localised issues with power supply on hot days, but these do not reflect systemic problems,” Mr Skinner said.

The fact sheet details why heatwaves impact the electricity grid, and the reasons for loss of supply.

Read the fact sheet here.