Energy Supply in Crisis

Australia’s energy supply was yesterday in serious doubt, with consumers in two states being urged not to use their household appliances to ease pressure on a system pushed to breaking point.

Heatwaves are not new to Australian summers but increasingly we are witnessing the inability of our complex power grid to meet the demands of the season when supply is most crucial.

The energy system operator was forced to use emergency powers to avoid widespread blackouts and major industry was forced to stop production. Alarmingly, the cost of supply soared to 145 times what it normally is due to the crisis.

The Australian reports this morning:

Despite the emergency measures being used for the first time in a year, 20,000 households in Adelaide were blacked out last night after power infrastructure buckled under the state’s severe heat. Power was knocked out from 90 electricity transformers on streets after the electric fuses failed due to the ­record temperatures and would not cool, SA Power Networks said.

Consumers were also asked to avoid using dishwashers, washing machines and pool pumps during peak times and lower their blinds before going to work to cool ­houses and lower demand.

Spot power prices hit the maximum of $14,500 a megawatt hour in South Australia yesterday, while in Victoria they reached $14,444/MWh, compared with average prices of $100/MWh.

This crisis is clearly an indictment on current market reliability in the wake of moves away from coal-supplied power sources:

In South Australia, which typically relies on renewables for half its power needs, wind supplied less than 4 per cent of the state’s electricity yesterday. Gas generators did the heavy lifting, accounting for 82 per cent of generation with diesel also chipping in.

Victoria was in a similar position, with wind supplying 3.8 per cent of the state’s requirements as brown coal, gas and hydro were deployed to meet rising demand.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal – yet, ironically, our energy supply is frequently pushed to breaking point because we are shutting down reliable coal-fired power plants in an ever-increasing ideological push toward more renewable energy sources.

Labor’s policy of 50% renewables by 2030 will put even more pressure on the Australian energy supply market – and not just during peak times in summer, but on a more frequent basis. It will mean that the crisis in South Australian power will be replicated across the country – with load-shedding, dangerous blackouts and businesses forced to halt production.

Reliable and affordable energy supply is critical to our economy and our way of life. 

Renewables certainly have a place in the energy market – but at the moment they cannot provide reliable base-load power. We must stop forcing prices up and creating a crisis in reliable supply just to appease green left-wing ideology.