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Basslink cable out again, costing Victorians more as prices rise

The Basslink cable has gone down again, and is expected to be out of action til mid-October. Luckily for Tasmania, the dams are at 45% full. However in Victoria, which sits on one of the largest brown coal reserves in the world, currently prices are hitting $300/MWh every morning and every evening at peak time.  This graph below shows 5 minute prices for the last two days in Victoria. Every dollar Victoria saves at lunchtime from solar generation is lost a few hours later, and then some. Though it’s wrong to use the word “saves” at any time of day. The wholesale price of brown coal power for years was $30/MWh, and this below is a wholesale price graph. Even the lunchtime “low prices” are twice as expensive as brown coal which can supply all day, every day and for hundreds of years to come and doesn’t cause voltage surges, frequency instability, or house fires, and doesn’t need backup batteries, demand management schemes, free movie tickets, or dark hospitals.

The AEMO must be counting their lucky stars that this happened at probably the “best” time of year when demand is lower.

AEMO, prices, 28 August 2019. NEM.



The effect of the Basslink outage is presumably obvious above the noise of the monthly graph of 30 minute prices in Victoria (see the last three days of thick red spikes). However, the biggest bonfire of money on the Victorian grid is the forced energy transition “every day”. Just look at the prices from 2015 (blue) when Hazelwood coal was still running and compare them with prices this year (red). That’s what the renewables revolution does.

Victorian prices, AEMO, August 2015, August 2019.

Victorian prices, AEMO, August 2015, August 2019.

At lunchtime even with all those Victorian solar panels working, SA and QLD were keeping the lights on in Victoria.

AEMO, prices, 28 August 2019. NEM.


Naturally, this will increase the calls for another Basslink, which will help renewables. Better yet, would be to spend that same money on reliable generation.

Details or any news of the Basslink outage are thin:

On Monday, Basslink investigators found a failure in the low-voltage cable, which had caused the interconnector’s Direct Current Protection system to trip.

They say the problem is in an above-ground section of the low-voltage cable in the transition station in Victoria. — ABC News

 A twitter search on #basslink:

Another outage for #Basslink #HVDC, this time on the metallic return of the #monopole but at least on land. Out till mid-October

Engineers might want more details – see this thread.

h/t Dave B.

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