Cooling coal needed during summer holidays

WITH temperatures heating up for summer, Australians are about to know how reliable the national electricity grid is without the certainty of coal-fired power.
Cooling coal needed during summer holidays Cooling coal needed during summer holidays Cooling coal needed during summer holidays Cooling coal needed during summer holidays Cooling coal needed during summer holidays

People enduring the summer heat will be begging to bring back coal.

During the peak summer months there is a natural increase in energy consumption across Australia on hot days because of the increased use of air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers.

Large utilities such as AGL claim they are preparing for the expected surge in consumption, however, Hogsback has doubts.

AGL chief operating officer Markus Brokhof said preparing for summer was a year-round task for the company, as the nation's largest energy generator.

"Summer places an enormous strain on both our energy generation infrastructure and the people who maintain it,'" he said.

"When demand increases during the warmer months, we know there is an increased risk of an outage, which is why we make investments in our summer readiness program and fire mitigation works throughout the year to ensure we are as prepared as possible."

AGL owns the Liddell and Bayswater power stations in New South Wales, the Loy Yang A power station in Victoria and Torrens Island power station in South Australia.

Annual generation from AGL's power stations includes 14,310 gigawatt hour from AGL Bayswater, 16,348GWh from AGL Loy Yang and 1665GWh from AGL Torrens Island. AGL's Liddell power station annually generates 7327GWh of energy, the equivalent of powering more than 1 million homes per year

However, AGL is embarking on closing Liddell by 2023, Bayswater by 2035 and Loy Yang A by 2048.

Given such a tight time frame - especially for the Liddell power station - the transition process to renewables may not be as smooth as we are led to believe.

In the Northern Hemisphere where offshore wind power is being touted as the power generation of the future, there are shortages of energy because of a lack of wind between the North Pole and the Atlantic Ocean brought about by climate change.  

Also, the uptake of renewable energy infrastructure such as solar cells and batteries will also be limited by the shortage in raw materials such as lithium, copper and critical minerals.

While governments around the world including Australia's extoll the virtues of electric vehicles in the wake of the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, no-one is preparing for the enormous drain charging these extra EVs will have on the electricity grid.

We are facing a situation where reliable coal-fired power is being wound down at the same time extra demand from an increasing number of EVs will be on the road.

This situation could lead to a perfect storm during that hot summer night Meatloaf sang about when the grid is under peak usage.

Hogsback reckons people enduring the summer heat will be begging to bring back coal if the new look renewables-based grid buckles under the pressure.