Summer of extreme demand to test evolving energy grid

Australia’s energy market operators are confident the network is in good shape ahead of another hazardous summer.

But governments, companies and regulators are readying for a so-called one-in-10-year day of high demand and potentially deadly conditions.

This year’s summer forecast is for hot and dry El Nino conditions, increasing the risk of bushfires and extreme heat.

After failing many in the Black Summer of 2019/20, the electricity system has been stabilised and strengthened, but preventing blackouts cannot be guaranteed.

More energy will be available to cope with heatwaves and peak demand compared to last summer – 1500 megawatts from new big batteries and fast-start gas, and an extra 2000MW of capacity from new wind and solar projects.

In the separate system in Western Australia nearly 50MW of extra scheduled generation will be available and a reserve capacity mechanism has been activated for emergency backup.


* NSW solar farms Avonlie (254MW), New England (400MW) and Wyalong (62MW)

* Queensland’s Edenvale solar park (180MW), Kaban wind farm (157MW), Kennedy energy park (58MW), Dulacca (173MW) wind and storage, Wandoan South solar (160MW), Ryan Corner wind (218MW) and Warwick solar (64MW)

* The new fast-start gas plant Tallawarra B (320MW) in NSW is designed to maintain system security and cover peak demand

* Additional capacity from NSW battery energy storage systems (BESS) in the Riverina (125MW) and Darlington Point (25MW)

* In South Australia, the 250MW Torrens Island grid-scale battery system built by AGL and Wartsila faces its first summer

* SA also has the Goyber South Wind Farm (158MW) and Tailem Bend stage two solar (105MW)

* In Victoria, the Hazelwood BESS (250MW) and Philip Island BESS (5MW) also support the phase-out of coal in the broader national electricity grid

* Also added in time for summer are Victoria’s Mortlake South wind farm (209MW) and Cohuna solar (27MW)

* The Capital battery in Canberra (100MW) will also connect to the grid via the transmission network, with full commissioning expected in 2024

* Not new or renewable, Queensland’s repaired coal-fired Callide C3 brings 466MW

* The gas turbines at SA’s Mintaro power station (90MW) are also scheduled to return to service


Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)


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