There’ll be blackouts this summer if nothing is done, AEMO report warns
Victoria and South Australia are at a high risk of forced blackouts this summer if no action is taken, according to the latest report by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).
- There is a risk of load-shedding blackouts this summer as companies switch off power due to system risk
- The AEMO has sourced emergency energy to keep up with demand this summer and prevent blackouts
- Emergency energy cost Victorians and South Australians almost $52 million last summer
The AEMO has released its summer outlook plan, which outlines the actions taken to prepare Australia’s electricity grid for the summer ahead.
The plan stated there was a heightened risk of load-shedding blackouts in Victoria and South Australia this summer, which happen when power companies start switching off their customers’ power supply because the system is at risk.
To stop that from occurring, the AEMO has sourced emergency energy reserves, which are typically not available to the market and are only accessed when supply is not keeping up with demand.
Those emergency reserves — otherwise known as Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) resources — do not come cheap.
The report stated that last summer emergency energy cost taxpayers in Victoria and South Australia almost $52 million.
That equated to an average of an extra $6 per household bill.
But the AEMO said the total cost of emergency electricity was expected to be lower this summer than last, despite predicting it would need a similar level of energy resources to manage the identified risks.
Peaks driven by extremes and solar supply
The time of the day, day of the week, weather extremes and even public holidays all affect electricity demand.
Periods of peak demand tend to occur when temperatures hit extremes and when both industry and households are accessing the grid at the same time.
This typically happens in the grip of summer, when people get home from work and turn to the air conditioner to stay cool.
But the AEMO report revealed peak demand was expected to occur later in the day than last year, in every Australian state and territory.
That is because a growth in the number of rooftop solar panels has seen consumers generating more of their own energy during daylight hours, before drawing on grid supply into the evening.
South Australia — which has the highest number of rooftop solar panels — consequently experienced its peak at 8:00pm last summer.