15 June 2022

Major power consumers on high alert as NSW reserves reach zero

| Claire Fenwicke
Join the conversation
Power lines

AEMO has warned there may be no excess capacity in the grid tonight. Photo: Tim Allen.

For the first time since the Black Summer bushfires, Evoenergy has alerted its major power consumers in Canberra and surrounds to be ready to prop up the National Electricity Market.

A Lack of Reserve (LOR) level three alert has been forecast for NSW and Queensland this evening (15 June), meaning no reserve power supplies will be available.

The Territory forms part of the NSW region under the National Electricity Market.

At 9 am this morning, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) sent out an electricity market notice which said from 5 pm to 12:30 am, Thursday (16 June), it forecast maximum loads could be interrupted in NSW.

READ ALSO ‘I was right to be cautious when dating’: donor-conceived Canberrans want rights of the child front and centre

An Evoenergy spokesperson said it had spoken with its larger electricity users in the ACT and they were ready to reduce their use if directed to do so by AEMO.

“Evoenergy has formal arrangements in place with several large customers who are prepared to reduce their load on the network if required,” they said.

“At this stage, Evoenergy does not expect ACT residents or businesses to be affected and Canberrans do not need to reduce their electricity use.

“Evoenergy has a well-established relationship with the market operator and is very well placed to respond should AEMO request Evoenergy to reduce electricity demand in the ACT.”

When there is an imbalance between energy supply and demand, AEMO can issue LOR notices to the market to encourage more electricity generation.

AEMO issued the level three alert in an effort to get energy market generators to bid their market availability which can be directed across the National Electricity Market to address shortfalls.

As of this morning, AEMO still sought energy generator support to fill forecast supply gaps.

It also entered into a “reserve contract” through the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader, which could be triggered to maintain the power system from 5 pm tonight.

READ ALSO CIT explains ‘unusual’ million-dollar contracts with ‘complexity thinker’

There is a difference between a forecast LOR and an actual LOR. AEMO said an actual LOR was when the “market response to the forecast LOR has not been adequate to clear the LOR thresholds, and the LOR becomes an operational reality”.

Under an actual LOR level three, “controlled shedding” to parts of the power system servicing homes and businesses may be required as a last resort.

“Load shedding is a last resort response to bring power flows into balance, averting the risk of system collapse or physical damage to parts of the power system,” according to an AEMO fact sheet.

“After all supply and demand response options available to AEMO have been exhausted, including importing more power from other states, wholesale demand response, tapping into emergency energy reserves and calling on the Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader, load shedding may be required.”

READ ALSO YWCA Canberra slams community groups for ‘gaming’ planning appeals

It comes as AEMO enforced wholesale electricity price caps of $300 per megawatt-hour to power generators to meet the forecast electricity supply shortfalls.

Wholesale electricity prices have been capped in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia due to the prices reaching the cumulative high price threshold, which is $1,359,100 over a seven-day period.

Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen recently said he had no doubt AEMO was up to the task of making sure we had enough power supply.

“Nobody is being asked to turn off anything they need … certainly no one should be turning their heating off or anything that’s essential,” he said.

“AEMO is actually working pretty hard to keep the generators putting into the system and using their powers where necessary.

“I have no doubt that they will again ensure we can avoid that load shedding wherever possible and, based on the advice, I’m confident we can.”

READ ALSO Lifestyle precincts buzzing as Canberrans embrace the ‘live, work, play’ mantra

The pressure on the system is due to cold temperatures across the east coast creating higher demand at the same time as several coal-fired power plants are offline.

Mr Bowen said some outages were planned, but others were unexpected.

“Particularly with an ageing fleet, you can’t predict when a coal-fired power station is going to go out,” he said.

“We all know we have to transition to new forms of energy and that’s been ill-managed over the last decade and we’re paying the price for that.”

A blackout was reported in the Oaks Estate area of Queanbeyan overnight which provider Essential Energy said affected about 1,600 customers.

“It was the result of a fault being detected on the electricity network,” southeastern operations manager Darren Basterfield said.

“Power was automatically isolated to customers, ensuring their safety while crews investigated.

“Crews located a fault in the underground electricity network near the Oaks Estate Zone Substation and were able to isolate the fault enabling power to be restored to all customers just after 9 pm.”

The underground cable fault will be examined further today.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

If I meet anyone fitting your pejorative terminology then I will ask them. While we are both waiting, what do you think about it?
How did it come about and what do you think it means? Be clear and thoughtful; I’ll wait.

As usual phydeaux, you’ve written the equivalent of hot air.

No answer to straightforward, specific questions, I see, not even the one you ask of others. It seems unavoidable that you had no thought process prior to your initial post, and none you can create now.

Must be all those coal powered Teslas.
Will Canberra be the first state to go nuclear? Maybe we can vote for the right to Canberra to decide its own nuclear laws…

HiddenDragon6:50 pm 15 Jun 22

If the overnight weather had been cold and still, or cold and so windy that many of the wind farms had to be stopped for safety reasons, we would have been in real trouble – at various stages, wind was supplying 20% or more of the available power.

The technology denialism of the renewables zealots and spruikers regarding the limitations and costs of current storage technology is going to bite Australian households and businesses on the backside in a serious way as the crusade against fossil fuel power (and even more vehemently, the “n” word) continues apace.

Can’t wait to see how bad this gets in the next few years as we start to decommission even more coal fired plants and increase our reliance on wind and solar. Renewables are inefficient and not as green as people are led to believe. Solar panels and wind turbines all go to landfill and are unreliable energy sources. And don’t get me started on Tesla batteries which relies on heavy manufacturing of rare earth minerals which leech toxic waste into the environment. Add to that the fact that all solar panels, batteries and turbine parts are imported from China and we are handing our future electricity network over to the Chinese government.

“At this stage, Evoenergy does not expect ACT residents or businesses to be affected and Canberrans do not need to reduce their electricity use.” Hmmm … funny that, Sam Oak – given ACT has a 100% reliance on renewables for its energy

Except that the ACT has already been affected. Oakes Estate is in the ACT.

Solar, wind (although that’s horrible if you live near the generators) and hydro electricity are starting to do a decent job. Problem is we need more hydro electricity but we need it where it actually rains reliably.

Tidal/wave energy is reliable and Australia is not short of coast line.

ChrisinTurner3:44 pm 15 Jun 22

Sam should do more research.

Except the outage in Oaks Estate was caused by a fault in the network, purplevh, not a supply issue – and power was restored as soon as the fault was isolated. Sounds like standard operational procedure to me.

Never fear, pay day loans for electricity and gas bills are doing great business

It’s hilarious when issues crop up like this how certain individuals instantly grasp at their pre-conceived notions (usually to have a whinge) rather than actually investigating the reasons behind the current energy crisis.

A crisis which has almost zero to do with renewables and a lot more to do with a decade of woeful government policy and inaction in the area and deliberate market manipulation by generators.

What’s new?

Completely agree with you Sam.
As you can tell some of the lazy, woke lefties don’t counteract any of your argument, they just call names, say it’s too complicated or say something about research.
Some of these woksters probably have shares in solar companies or wealthy enough that the only thing they care about is global warming.

Capital Retro9:04 am 16 Jun 22

Another pre-conceived notion, ha ha.

Capital Retro,
I agree it is funny when the failure of fossil fuel plants is blamed on renewable energy.

In your world it truly does seem that down is up and up is down.

Hello inspmorese50, let us take your main paragraph there, “…something about research”; the one in which you complain about “call[ing] names” while referring to “lazy, woke lefties”. For reference points, let us take a couple of S Oak’s simpler statements, about recycling and manufacture.
The most trivial research will show that Australian companies recycle solar panels here. The most trivial research will show that some batteries are manufactured in Australia as well as in other countries which are not China (in fact Denmark has the biggest wind turbine manufacturer). Marginally less trivial research will show that turbine blades are being recycled, albeit their long lifespan means demand is not yet high.
What was it you were saying about “lazy” and “research”? You?
How many times should we counteract these absurdities from S Oak et al, or is it not reasonable to point to the fact of repetitious follies, rather than give them credit where obviously none is deserved?
Still, you “completely agree with … Sam” so I guess the important thing for you is you have an opinion.
P.S. if being a wokster means cooking with a wok then count me in.

Phydux, are you prepared to substantiate your arguments that solar panels are being recycled? Being recyclable is not the same is being recycled: https://amp.abc.net.au/article/100193244
Wind turbine blades are made out of carbon fibre which is not recyclable: https://reneweconomy.com.au/explainer-what-happens-to-old-wind-turbines/amp/
But sure, feel free to mouth your “pre-conceived notions”.

I was going to suggest that instead of channeling Colin Dexter for your nick, inspmorse50, you channel Lewis Carroll as you seem very good at writing fairy tales. Alas phydeaux has beaten me to it with a very erudite dismantling of your fiction.

Phydeaux’s notions may be pre-conceived but they are also 100% factual, Sam Oak.
Recyclable wind turbine blades are now being manufactured – https://reneweconomy.com.au/worlds-first-fully-recyclable-wind-turbine-blades-roll-off-production-line/
and solar panels are already being recycled https://reneweconomy.com.au/australias-first-solar-panel-recycling-plant-swings-into-action/

Yes, S Oak, I am. Lotus Energy, Reclaim PV, PV Industries all recycle panels in Australia, most of the weight being glass anyway. As businesswire says, “the global solar panel recycling market to grow with a CAGR of 24% over the forecast period from 2021-2027. The study on solar panel recycling market covers the analysis of the leading geographies such as North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and RoW for the period of 2019 to 2027 “. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210824005557/en/Worldwide-Solar-Panel-Recycling-Industry-to-2027—Aging-Older-Installations-Present-Opportunities—ResearchAndMarkets.com or you might prefer the EPA https://www.epa.gov/hw/solar-panel-recycling#How%20Solar%20Panels%20are%20Recycled
Your claim was “all go to landfill”; obviously false, not mere exaggeration albeit with a pile of preconception.
Your claim regarding wind turbine blades (again “all”) is again false, the major problem being that it is still usually cheaper to dump than to recycle so many do, which is why societies seek to price pollution (externalised costs) including carbon emissions. Carbon fibre is already re-purposed, for example in cement, in noise barriers, for building boards, while new blades being produced are fully recyclable although that will not be needed for them for many years.
Happy? Probably not; information and change do not seem to fit with your preconceived notions.

JS, it is you living in a fairy tale believing we can magically harness the power of the sun and wind using a device that pops out of nowhere. And we can install these devices out in the desert and teleport the electricity to the capital cities without loss of fidelity just so latte-sipping left wing millennials can watch Netflix on their 60” plasma TVs guilt-free while the rest of the world goes about building more coal fired power stations.

If it’s not economical to recycle something it won’t get recycled simple as that. I don’t care for your claims that they “can be recycled”. That means absolutely nothing. I’m talking about are they being recycled right now. The answer is no, they are going to landfill.

Sam Oak,
I can’t see where JS or anyone else has said that renewable electricity generation doesn’t come with unique technical challenges?

Not sure why you need to concoct such weak strawmen.

But the facts are that even with those technical challenges, they are now cheaper in Australia even when you add in network storage and reliability requirements.

The issue we have is that this transition to the long term cheaper technologies changes the fundamental operation of the grid amd needs to be managed.

This means the government needs to regulated the transition strongly with well developed policy.

Unfortunately, there has been too much inaction and ideological positioning to manage the issue, which has led to the current situation, exacerbated by global conditions that have further worsened the position of the fossil fuel generators.

To be clear, we need our current fossil fuel generators to continue to operate for the short term and the government should provide them investment certainty as the transition happens.

But this doesn’t mean that we need to be building new fossil fuel generation capacity, particularly not coal fired plants. At best there is a role for gas to fill in as a stopgap but even that’s debatable.

“ renewable electricity generation doesn’t come with unique technical challenges?” LOL that is textbook straw man argument if I ever saw one diverting attention away from economic reality. Didn’t read past this statement because it was the usual left wing manifesto about policy inaction by the regulators blah blah blah.

S. Oak, a few things for the record.
1. I see that you have abandoned your false claim that all solar panels go to landfill, and other aspects of your initial claims. As I first said to inspmorse50, trivial research would have told you that, yet you tried challenging the facts a second time!
2. You avoid the fact that recycling of turbine blades already occurs, despite your repeated claim that all go to landfill (and that is now illegal in Europe, not yet in America although recycling already happens there too).
3. I never wrote the words you purport to quote, “can be recycled”, my arguments being on the point of actual recycling, with examples. You avoid it.
All industrial processes have nett entropy. You need to look at system outcomes and their scope for improvement.

Capital Retro3:11 pm 16 Jun 22

This is interesting reading about the guidelines for decommissioning a wind turbine in Australia: https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/advocacy-initiatives/community-engagement/decommissioning

Apparently, the concrete plug is simply covered over and left in-situ. That means it ends up in landfill. What a shocking waste.

@phydux you can nitpick all you want over whether I said 100% of solar panels go to landfill or not. I don’t care, the proportion that are recycled is negligible compared to the vast majority that is currently going to landfill which is my point. If you can provide supporting evidence that the majority of solar panels at the end of their service life in Australia are NOT currently going to landfill I’d happily make a $1million donation to the Greens party!

I had been wondering when you would resort to “nitpicking” as a diversion S. Oak. I reiterate that almost everything you originally said is proven false and most of those you have not even attempted to defend.
Your request for me to provide something I never claimed is ludicrous, although it demonstrates again your lack of reading, e.g. that businesswire link I provided which talks about a 24% CAGR in the industry; sounds like an interesting area for investment. However, if you google “Greens Party Australia” you should be able to find where to send your kind offer of $1M. They may be interested in discussing your timeframe and doing some research.
I am less interested in wasting further time on your fallacies, follies and diversions, as I explained to inspmorse50. When you are wrong, you tend to stay that way regardless.

Lol everyone can see through your feeble attempts to change the topic. My statement stands that the majority of solar panels currently go to landfill and it is a fact. Whatever you wish to state as a fact is completely irrelevant. I don’t care for “24% CAGR” whatever that means. Because 24% growth off a low base is a very small number!

2:50 PM 16 Jun 22, look it up again.
Nobody changes a subject but you. The rest is silly, epitomised by “fact is … irrelevant”. I think that is where you started.

Sam Oak,
You didn’t read?

Yes we know.

Laughably you then talk about economic reality which was exactly what my comment was about.

The economic reality that new fossil fuel generators simply cannot compete with new renewable generators.

Also LOL at thinking that anything I say is “left wing”. Usually I’m being attacked for being “right wing”.

Seems like the intellectual laziness of those who don’t like facts and evidence exists across the political spectrum.


It is also hilarious to see Sam Oak’s original claims be picked apart and then for him to change his position repeatedly.

Not sure if he realises the words he wrote are still visible.

Also LOL at him then claiming others were changing the topic. The irony burns.

S.Oak, we all accept that your initial claims were somewhat befuddled. Your last remaining claim now is that “the majority of solar panels currently go to landfill”.
Fine. Now, what do you make of that, for now and the future? Feel free to explain in full, including costs and payoffs, industry growth in generation and recycling, investment and return.
Should we fire up the Kingston Powerhouse boilers? Perhaps we should just burn it to keep a few people warm for 24 hours in Winter? Your place next?
You said in response to my mention of CAGR, “whatever that means”, despite opportunity to look up definition and explanation. So, I accept that industry and productive investment are foreign territories to you. This may make discussion difficult.

If renewables are truely the cheapest option why haven’t they been built yet? Everyone knows in a free market where there are profits to be made, the investment is quickly made. Maybe the electricity output is minimal relative to the “cheap” cost of the inputs? Sure if you are purely counting the cost of the solar panel itself that is dirt cheap. But you’re not taking into account the vast area of flat land it needs to sit on. Tell me which part of the ACT can support a solar or wind farm without taking up valuable agricultural land or land set aside for development. You have millennials complaining they can’t afford a house, how many are prepared to have a wind turbine sitting in their backyard?

Please, chewy I have not heard a single conservative argument from you. You and phydux need to get off the internet at this hour because we’re being asked to conserve electricity to save the planet but if either of you two lefties respond tonight it just goes to show how hypocritical virtue signalling lefties are!

Seems I was right. S.Oak’s lack of understanding of industry and investment is scribbled all over that first paragraph.
If it helps though, S Oak, I have noticed posts in other topics in which chew14 advances or implies centre-right positions. They just happen to be far less extreme than yours, unsurprising for most people.

“If renewables are truely the cheapest option why haven’t they been built yet?”

What exactly do you think is happening? The amount of new renewable generation hitting the grid each year is enormous and growing. They will take over as the dominant power source before 2030 on any reasonable viewing of the data, trends and proposed projects.

Although you have identified one issue, it should have been happening faster but energy investment in general has been slow due to woeful policy inaction by the federal government for the last decade.

“Sure if you are purely counting the cost of the solar panel itself that is dirt cheap. But you’re not taking into account the vast area of flat land it needs to sit on”

Firstly, solar is not the only technology so it’s a bit of a moot point but we literally have enormous desert areas that are unusable for almost any purpose. The land value of these areas is close to nil.

“Please, chewy I have not heard a single conservative argument from you”

Who said anything about “conservative” arguments. “Right wing” does not equal “conservative”.

The burning irony here being that promoting renewable technologies is justified from a purely economic standpoint without even considering environmental impacts. Strange then that so many so called “free market supporters” aren’t fully on board.

Chewy, what exactly is this “policy inaction” impediment you refer to. Please be more specific. If solar is truly cheaper the investment would be made by business to generate profit. If a tradie needs to buy a Ute, they buy one. If a Cafe needs a coffee machine, they buy one if it makes them money. You don’t wait for subsidies to be thrown at the renewables sector and call that “cheap”.

Please let me know where the desert areas are in Canberra. Must have missed it on my drive to work? You think we can have all the solar and wind farms out in the Simpson desert and magically transit it to the capitals? It’d cost the equivalent of building all datacentres in the desert and building the NBN system to every house along the coast to connect it!

“Chewy, what exactly is this “policy inaction” impediment you refer to.”

The government needed to provide mechanisms that promote investment certainty for both new renewable generators as well as the existing fossil fuel fleet.

This could take many forms but would basically need to provide value for dispatchable power sources. An example would be “availability payments” for generators whether they were actually dispatched or not. The previous governments NEG policy was an example of this type of action but was poorly designed. No political party has been willing to come to reasonable compromises on this either, the ALP and Greens are culpable as well.

“If solar is truly cheaper the investment would be made by business to generate profit.”

Once again, what do you think is happening? Power plants aren’t like picking up a Ute, surely no one is that dense.

The amount of new renewables hitting the grid is enormous. It’s been around an additional 10% of total generation in the last 5 years alone, a staggering 5% of total increase in 2021 alone.

“Please let me know where the desert areas are in Canberra.”

Are you really that slow? Have you heard of transmission lines?

“You think we can have all the solar and wind farms out in the Simpson desert and magically transit it to the capitals? It’d cost the equivalent of building all datacentres in the desert and building the NBN system to every house along the coast to connect it!”

You clearly know very little of the cost of electricity transmission. You are orders of magnitude out.

“The amount of new renewable generation hitting the grid each year is enormous and growing. They will take over as the dominant power source before 2030 on any reasonable viewing of the data, trends and proposed projects.”
Sorry, but that incredible statement sounds like an excerpt from the daily star signs on page 57 of the local rag

No, it sounds like the actual recorded outputs and trends.

You know they actually measure this stuff right?

Perhaps you’d like to read some actual evidence?

Or maybe not, it’s a bit hard to make your ridiculous statements if you were actually informed.



Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.