Down to the wire: Heatwave threatens energy record as Qld asks for more electricity

If Queensland is lucky and the notoriously fickle generator fleet holds up we should be able to scrape through tonight’s peak of energy use without blackouts or load shedding.

Feb 03, 2023, updated Feb 03, 2023
Callide Power Station. (file image)

Callide Power Station. (file image)

The market regulator AEMO issued notices this morning to generators to assess what reserves they could bring on line this afternoon when Queensland was expected to break through its all-time record demand for energy of about 10,100 megawatts.

AEMO said this was normal when it considered the demand might beat supply and just before midday the apparent temperature in Brisbane hit 37 degrees and the real temperature topped 35.

The humidity this morning in Brisbane hit 90 per cent at sunrise and dissipated  to the mid-50s by midday.

The peak however should be between 5.30pm and 9.30pm this evening when Queenslanders get home and switch on appliances.

If needed, AEMO said it would activate the reserves.

This morning it forecast a reserve requirement of 525 MW and there was 282MW available.

Energy analyst Paul McArdle said forecasts showed demand for energy this afternoon should be “very high”.

“Indeed, if this holds true it will be well past the previous all-time record from March 8, 2022,” he said.

Making matters worse, a handful of generators, including Callide C4, C3, B2 and Gladstone 1, are on the sidelines and not generating. Two gas units at Darling Downs and Swanbank E were likely to switch off today and come back on at the peak.

And surprisingly, coal-fired generators often trip in hot weather.

It makes Energy Minister Mick de Brenni’s forecast that Queensland would get through without blackouts look brave.

“But the assurance that I want to provide to Queensland households and businesses is that our energy system is ready – now it will be tight, but the system will be manageable,” de Brenni said yesterday.


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