In the largest city in a country with 300 years of coal left, yesterday the government asked a few million people to pull down the blinds on a midsummers day, to turn off the pool pumps, and not run the dishwasher from 4 – 8pm if they could avoid it. It was 42 degrees C.
Remember the good old days when the nation could afford to run the air con? Here in metropolis Australia, some days it’s better to bunker down in a few dark rooms with the air con at survival mode.
Welcome to Renewable World. What’s wrong with all those solar panels? Between dust storms and bushfires and the hail in Canberra, possibly they are covered in dust or soot, or perhaps, holes.
Imagine how much productive brain power is being consumed. The whole nation (almost) is becoming involved in management of the hypercomplex random generation network. As well as all those poles and wires and control rooms, we now need radio and twitter to send messages to the serfs to open and close windows, change their work schedules, or run out and click the pool pump off.
Ben Graham, The Observer, Jan 23rd
The government is advising people reduce electricity demand for a few hours this afternoon, by:
· closing doors, windows and blinds to keep the heat out;
· switching off non-essential appliances such as pool pumps;
· cooling a minimum number of rooms; and setting air conditioners to 26 degrees.
“The peak period for power use in NSW is expected to be between 4pm and 8pm, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and we are asking consumers to reduce their demand during this period where it is possible and safe to do so.”
While the grid appeared to survive another day, things could easily get worse. The peak heat of summer may (or may not) be over, but here in Oz, summer holidays are winding up, and school and industry will return to full demand in the next two weeks, yet NSW is already struggling. If there is a hot humid day in February, things may not work out so well.
Coming soon: no hot meals for you at dinnertime.
A fragile grid:
The Australian Financial Review
The power market operator has been forced to call on emergency reserves for the third time this summer to prevent potential blackouts in sweltering NSW as the electricity grid strained under the the impact of wild weather, generator outages and high demand.
Rural NSW power distributor Essential Energy said 890 customers affected by the devastating bushfires earlier this month remained without power, while a further 7600 lost power Thursday afternoon as fires reignited on the South Coast.
Mr McConnell [at The University of Melbourne’s climate and energy college] said that while some weather forecasters were speculating the summer heat may already have peaked, the risks to supplies remained. “It would be a brave person to rest on their laurels now,” he said, pointing to the full restoration of industrial demand yet to come and with extreme heatwaves driving high demand still possible through March.
Mr McConnell said that as of early afternoon electricity demand in NSW was about 2000 MW higher than the same time on Wednesday amid temperatures approaching 40 degrees. Solar output also appeared to be lower, possibly due to the impact of dust storms.
The emergency reserves are known as the RERT scheme (Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader).