Australian power market operator braces for hot, dry summer

Energy Market
Energy Market

The Australian Energy Market Operator on Wednesday unconfined it’s summer readiness plan as the electricity system stays for high temperatures and possible outages caused by bushfires. Life-threatening temperatures will put coal-fired power plants under stress this summer, but backup electricity sources should be able to prevent any shutdowns. Coal-fired plants provide the bulk of Australia’s energy but along with natural gas, fired-plants are critical to back up growing supplies of wind and solar power, especially in the evenings.

Most of the backup power has been traced for Victoria and South Australia, with the rest in New South Wales and Queensland. It warned in August that if these units were not back up during the peak summer period, up to 1.3 million households could go without power for four hours in an extreme heatwave.

The market operator is counting on 750 MW of supply that has been out of service over the past six months – the Mortlake gas plant run by Origin Energy and a unit at the Loy Yang coal-fired plant run by AGL Energy – to be back up by the end of December.

“These risks add to the deteriorating reliability of some of the older coal generation plants,” Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) Chief Executive Audrey Zibelman said in a statement. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology cautioned last week that the summer, which runs from December through February, is likely to be hotter and drier than normal, raising the chances of heatwaves and bushfires.