South Australia prices hit market cap as temperature records tumble | RenewEconomy

South Australia prices hit market cap as temperature records tumble

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Period of low prices in South Australia comes to an abrupt end amid third day of unprecedented heatwave.

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South Australia’s Indian summer of low wholesale electricity prices have come to an abrupt end, with prices hitting the market peak for extended periods on Thursday evening as the unprecedented heatwave caused air-conditioning units to be switched on en masse.

The third day of the heatwave saw temperatures soar to a December record high of more than 45°C in Adelaide and 46°Ç in the suburbs and up to 48.5° in Port Augusta. In the state’s west, at Nullarbor, the temperature reached an Australian December record of 49°C.

For most of the last three months South Australia – thanks to mild temperatures and a record high share of wind and solar (more than 60 per cent) – enjoyed the lowest wholesale prices in the country, and had averaged $66/MWh since June 30 – bettered only by Queensland.

See: Renewable South Australia posts lowest wholesale prices for second month in row

But on Thursday the average price jumped to $822/MWh over the 24 hour period as the grid operator turned to most – but not all – of its available resources, including diesel generators which pushed, as they normally do – the wholesale price to the market cap of $14,700 for nearly an hour – at a cost of nearly $50 million.

(The state owned back up generators were not switched on, RenewEconomy understands, and some plant were not operating at capacity. The state owned generators will be leased to Infigen Energy and Nexif from May to allow them to provide “firming” capacity to clients and build more wind and solar farms)..

It says something about the resilience of the South Australian grid now that there were no outages from supply shortfalls. Operational demand reached a near record high 3,118MW around 7pm as temperatures hit 45.3°C in the city and more than 46°C in the suburbs.

Even at 4am and 5am on Friday, with the temperatures still at an astonishing 36°C in the city, demand hovered around 2,000MW – significantly higher than the evening peak demand of a weak earlier.

Prices had fallen however, to around $30/MWh, because of the strong contribution of wind energy and because the diesel generators were no longer needed. The state’s huge resource in rooftop solar helped keep a lid on prices during the day as most peaking plant could be left idle, taking the strain off the grid.

The growing resilience was highlighted in a report released on Thursday by the Australian Energy Market Operator into an “islanding” event that separated South Australia from the rest of the main grid for more than 5 hours on November 16.

See: South Australia’s renewables grid separates from NEM; lights don’t go out

That event was caused by a communications problem that caused two transmission links to fail- but the South Australia grid, operating at just over 50 per cent renewables at the time (as it usually does) performed well, with most of the gas generators, wind farms, solar farms, virtual power plants and grid-scale batteries operating at the time doing what they were supposed to do.

South Australia emerged unscathed during another major separation even in August last year, when lightweight strikes hit transmission lines linking NSW and Queensland, sparking a series of events that saw both Queensland and South Australia separated from the grid, and load-shedding in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

See: On first day as PM, Morrison learns difference between Big Battery and Big Banana

Queensland, despite its large dependence on coal fired generators, operated in an unstable state for some period because the big thermal generators did not respond to the frequency changes as they should have. South Australia, with the Tesla big battery and the Dalrymple North battery responding in speed, had no issues.

 

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7 Comments
  1. Paul McArdle 6 months ago

    Having a bit of a look at what happened yesterday in South Australia – more on WattClarity in a few hours…

  2. Paulw 6 months ago

    If some one can explain to me why South Australia’s largest generation company AGL was only running at about 2/3rds capacity when everybody else was pretty much running flat out during the Price Peak that would be appreciated.

  3. Chris Drongers 6 months ago

    The last paragraph in Giles’ article above is interesting in contrasting the instability of Qld’s grid powered by whopping steam generators and big heavy spinning generators connected to turbines to the stability of SA’s network using variable and inverter controlled solar and wind with lots of small gas and diesel generators.
    The contrast is important because it seems to fly against today’s lead article detailing grid instability ( threat of entering oscillations in an inverter regulated part of the network with stability coming from big spinning generators in the synchronous condensors).
    Two wildly different interpretations of the role of inverters and syncons in maintaining grid stability in the adjoining SA and VIC grids.

  4. Andrew Roydhouse 6 months ago

    Hmmm, I could be wrong but should the word have been “lightning” or is there some new dastardly union strike that we haven’t heard about?

    “lightweight strikes hit transmission lines linking NSW and Queensland”

  5. Michael Murray 6 months ago

    Interesting. We seem to have kept up a bit more wind than we often do during a heatwave when it dies away to nothing. The SA grid seems to be a lot more resilient than a decade or so ago when a heatwave in Adelaide and a heatwave in Melbourne at the same time used to almost certainly mean rolling outages. Rugged night last night though with the temperature not dropping below 32ºC. Just waiting for the change …

  6. Nick Kemp 6 months ago

    Really this just highlights the crap quality of new house builds. We keep building houses with black roofs, badly placed thermal mass, poor insulation and poor shading then face them in the wrong direction because that’s where the road is. Each one lasts a minimum of around 25 years and we are flat out building more. the first way to manage energy consumption is to not use it!

  7. Aluap 6 months ago

    It’s still a scam, though of a different type.

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