South Australia’s reliance on wind energy and imported power from the Victorian grid has the potential to create “extreme” period energy shortfalls in the state, which regularly sources up to 40 per cent of its power from renewable sources.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) report said Alinta’s decision to close coal-fired power stations early next year could have a dramatic impact on the electricity network. Specifically, the closure of the Northern Power station will impact the balance of demand and supply in South Australia throughout the next three years.
“When high demand coincides with low wind generation, plant outages or low levels of imports, South Australia may experience supply shortfalls,” the report says.
Alinta announced in July it would close its two coal-fired power stations in Port Augusta and also the Leigh Creek mine, which supplies the coal, from early 2018 or possibly sooner.
The closures were deemed inevitable by the company, which said operations had become “increasingly uneconomic”.
Alinta Energy chief executive officer Jeff Dimery said there had been a decline in energy demands in South Australia as the number of industrial customers had fallen and households had become more efficient.