The Australian Energy Market Operator has warned that we’re expecting a once-in-a-decade surge in electricity demand, putting Australia’s energy system to the test. An expert is available to explain how we might avoid blackouts this summer.
Topics: energy system, electricity, electrical grid, summer, blackouts, air conditioners, heatwaves
Associate Professor Lasantha Meegahapola, Electrical and Biomedical Engineering
“Electricity demand can sometimes peak due to extreme weather conditions, such as scorching conditions driven by heatwaves.
“In theory, these extreme events occur once in a while, such as once in a decade. However due to climate change consequences, the frequency of such events has increased in the past three decades.
“The electricity system should be ready to tackle demand driven by these extreme weather events.
“According to the Australian Energy Market Operator we are in a much better position than last year due to additional wind and solar capacity added to the system.
“However, the amount of energy produced by these renewable power sources is significantly lower compared to traditional generators, since they can only produce power when there’s wind and sun.
“Relying too much on these generation sources is too risky without a large storage capacity built into the network.
“Of course, having additional wind and solar power should reduce the risk of blackouts in the coming hot summer, but still, we cannot rule out any blackout risk.
“The operator needs careful planning to optimally utilise the additional wind and solar generators while coordinating with the energy storage systems.
“As we move towards a low-carbon power grid, the network requires more storage capacity to firm the output of the wind and solar energy generators.
“Community or neighbourhood batteries and microgrids are also part of the solution.
“These solutions would help us construct a more robust power grid that can cope with extreme weather conditions.”
Dr Lasantha Meegahapola conducts research into renewable power generation, power system stability and microgrids.