AEMO restores energy market: Electricity boss says Australia must ditch coaL
Australia needs to move quickly to renewable energy to avoid future power outages, said Chris Bowen and the boss of the energy market operator.
Last week, cold winter weather, coal-fired power plant failures, low wind and solar power and high global gas prices sparked an energy crisis on Australia’s east coast.
With generators refusing to supply power because they would be at a loss, the Australian Energy Market Operator has suspended the spot market in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria for the first time ever.
The national electricity market has been suspended for the first time. Pictured: Bondi residents wrapped up warm on a cold morning
Today, the operator said the market would recover Friday morning after avoiding blackouts following its intervention.
CEO Daniel Westerman said the way to avoid such a crisis in the future is to move away from coal-fired energy.
About 25 percent of Australia’s coal power capacity has been missing in recent weeks due to planned and unexpected outages of aging power plants.
‘This situation is caused by a multitude of factors. Yes, aging plants that break down and have more maintenance issues is a problem,” he said.
“The war in Ukraine and the impact of global commodity prices is a problem, yes.
“It points to the long-term answer, which is a transition to fixed renewables and transmission.
“That’s the long-term answer to disconnecting ourselves from international price shocks and aging infrastructure.”
The new Labor government wants 82 percent of Australians to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.
Energy Secretary Bowen said: ‘This is a transformation that we need to move forward.’
Of the renewable sources, the sun makes up about 37 percent and wind 36 percent. Pictured: A wind farm in Tasmania
He supported a “capacity mechanism” that would pay generators to provide extra power during the transition to keep the lights on.
“We need to make faster progress on the transformation and we need the capacity mechanism to help us do that to provide that safety net underneath as we embark on this significant transformation towards a more renewable economy, a more renewable energy system with more storage,” he said. said.
‘I have made it clear, and ministers have made it clear, that we want the capacity mechanism to focus on new technology, with storage at its core. We’re going to make that happen.’
Crisis was averted after NSW asked residents to cut their electricity consumption from 5:30pm to 8pm on Wednesday night.
About 60 percent of Australia’s electricity comes from coal, while 32 percent comes from renewable sources.
Of renewables, the sun makes up about 37 percent and wind 36 percent, meaning the country could be without power if the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow as much as usual.
With the suspension, the operator took charge of the supply of the power generators to the east coast electricity grid.
The generators were expected to provide themselves and be paid for at a fixed price.
Why did AEMO suspend the market?
- A large number of production units out of action for scheduled maintenance – a typical situation in the intermediate seasons.
- Scheduled transmission failures.
- Periods with little wind and solar energy.
- About 3000 MW of coal-fired generation is out of action due to unplanned events.
- An early start to winter – increasing demand for both electricity and gas.
It was the first time the entire market had been suspended since its inception in 1998. The South Australian market was shut down in 2016 after a nationwide power outage.
At a press conference in Adelaide last Tuesday afternoon, AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman said the drastic move was necessary because it had “become impossible to serve the spot market”.
He warned that conditions would “stay tight” and urged Australians, particularly in NSW, to conserve power.
‘Today, AEMO shut down the national electricity market. This decision was made because it was impossible to operate the system under the current conditions while ensuring a reliable, safe supply of electricity to Australian homes and businesses,” he said.
‘By suspending the market, we are creating a simple process in which AEMO has real insight in advance into which generators are available and when.
“That visibility will help us manage the system in real time and understand the balance between supply and demand in the coming period.
“However, conditions will remain tight in the coming days, particularly in New South Wales, where we want to encourage consumers to conserve energy where it is safe to do so.”
Last Monday night, parts of Sydney’s northern beaches were briefly plunged into a blackout, while Queensland residents narrowly escaped the same fate.
On Tuesday, AEMO had to arrange five gigawatts of generation through direct intervention to avoid power outages after generators stopped supplying power due to a price cap allegedly causing them to lose money.
Western Australia and the Northern Territory are not part of the National Electricity Market (NEM). The ACT has been incorporated into NSW for the benefit of the NEM.
Energy Secretary Chris Bowen said he was pleased that blackouts had been avoided so far and that he believed they could be prevented