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The hottest thing in SA and Victoria tomorrow may be electricity prices

Millions of dollars will be burning on electricity tomorrow

With normal hot summer days expected tomorrow price spikes are forecast.

It’s not that hot

These are hot, but not unusual days for the capitals — Adelaide is forecast to be 41C, the other capitals are tame: Melbourne 33, Canberra 39 and Sydney 30.  Though small inland cities are baking – like Albury at 44C.

South Australia could burn $36 million an hour

For South Australia tomorrow the AEMO is forecasting the state will need 2,800MW for 2.5 hours at $12,000/MWh. That could be $35m per hour.  Note that forecasts in electricity often vary quite a lot from actuals. Looking at the truckload of cash being offered (from a generators point of view) will presumably bring in some extra supply and lower that price.

SA Electricity cost, spikes, Jan 2019

Forecast prices for Jan 15th 2019 | AEMO


For Victoria, things are even worse

The AEMO is forecasting 9,000MW will be needed at $14,500/MWh for 3 hours. That’s $130 million per hour.   Hypothetically, it would be an obscene $390 million dollars just to power the state just from 3 – 6pm. Enough to buy an entire gas fired power plant and have it sitting around all year waiting for spikes.


VIC, Electricity cost, spikes, Jan 2019

Forecast prices for Jan 15th 2019 | AEMO

For those peak hours, if it hits the price cap, spike pricing would be 400 times more expensive than baseload brown coal.  The same $400m dollars could theoretically power the state for 50 days of non-stop electricity from brown coal stations like Hazelwood Power Plant (if only they hadn’t shut it). Though peak prices in midsummer are normally higher so it is not an apples to apples comparison. Note too: These are wholesale spot prices — there are other charges beyond this like the FCAS which will could rise tomorrow too. We are not even counting that.

It sounds outlandish but one two-day heatwave last year cost SA and Vic $400m dollars.

Could this week be the 2019 bonfire heatwave?

The AEMO has issued a LOR (Lack of Reserve) warning — Grade 2 for Victoria

There is a forecast LOR2 for Victoria in place at the moment. The AEMO says reserve available is expected to be 658MW but 978MW is needed. That’s 300 MW short. If the price is right (and it could not get more “right” without breaking the law) presumably there will be some new generation on offer. The availability and demand numbers can dance around a lot. This afternoon, the AEMO has issued two updates and curiously the situation has got worse with each update, not better.

But hey, it might be windier than they expect tomorrow, and then everything will be just fine.

UPDATE 10PM: Victorian LOR2 downgraded to LOR1. Expected reserve capacity now 1002MW. The required is 1090MW. The people in the control room must be very very busy.

 TonyFromOz explains that all our available coal power is running flat out. The peak today (Monday) was 32,000MW.

Forerunner to tomorrow was the Peak today at 5PM. Total power generation (therefore total power consumption) was 32300MW. There are currently three coal fired Units off line, (one in each State still with coal fired power) so the total available coal fired power Nameplate is 19600MW.  The total coal fired power being delivered at 5PM was 19200MW.

Add on natural gas fired power and the smaller Other sources, and the total CO2 emitting power on line delivering power at 5PM came in at 81.2% of that total.  Hydro was at 12.2, and wind and solar power combined was delivering 6.6%.

And tomorrow, they say it will be even higher.  Coal fired power is running at max already.

Hmm! Imagine if there was just one more coal fired power plant, umm, say even that ancient old clunker Hazelwood.

Take away coal fired power, umm, tell ‘em they’re dreamin!


 Bear in mind years ago the real system peak was 36,000MW. Now it appears we can’t do that unless we get lucky. It’s a good thing those car manufacturers and smelters shut down…

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