‘Perfect storm’: The energy industry struggles to keep the lights on

Source: The Age

Australian summers bring fourth extreme weather, and with it comes the most trying time of the year for the nation’s electricity system.

As weather forecasts predict scorching temperatures and the current bushfires bringing down vital interstate links, some energy insiders are concerned the system is going to face one of its biggest tests in years.

Coal generators that have been operating since the 1970’s are ageing, and are becoming less reliable and more expensive to maintain. AGL and EnergyAustralia have spent $330 million in the past year alone to upgrade and maintain its generation fleet.

Despite 3700 megawatts of electricity being added to the system this year, the market operator AEMO is prepared to ensure the sporadic blackouts experienced in January last year don’t occur again. One way is the securing of record level summer reserves, some under short and medium notice arrangements, to avoid potential “load shedding”.

Along with reliability being a big focus, so is the transition into the next 15 years, where coal-fired power is set to conclude, and renewable energy generation can flourish, if implementations are made in the correct areas.

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