NSW demand tops 12,800MW and reserves tighten today – prior to the cool change

Compared to yesterday’s (moderately) high demand event across the NEM, this morning in NEM-Watch we saw a much-more-bluish colour in both Victoria and South Australia – see the snapshot here at 11:15 NEM time:

Lower temperatures in Victoria and South Australia keep electricity demand lower

In contrast, we notice the higher temperatures in NSW (and particular the population centre of Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong) driving demand in NSW higher – already, in the NEM-Watch snapshot from 11:25, we see demand above 12,000MW (so already higher than yesterday’s peak):

NSW demand forecast to climb to 13,000MW today

Note the AEMO warning (Market Notice) of low reserve capacity in NSW for this afternoon.  Clicking on the Market Notice heading within NEM-Watch opens the full text of the notice in Notepad – with the message saved here for your reference:

AEMO warns of insufficient spare generation capacity in NSW on 14th January 2016

As noted in this image, an LOR1 notice is the least-severe of the AEMO warnings.

However at 12:45 we see AEMO has issued another Market Notice warning of a forecast LOR2 level for later this afternoon (from 14:00 to 15:00 NEM time, so 15:00-16:00 NSW time).  This coincides with the real-time warning calculated by NEM-Watch of a low Instantaneous Reserve Plant Margin (IRPM) in the NSW Economic Island (845MW spare, or a margin of only 7% – whereas typically the system is more comfortable above 10%):

NEM-Watch warning of low Instantaneous Reserve Plant Margin (IRPM) in NSW at 12:45 market time

Given the tightness of the supply/demand balance, it was no surprise to see the occasional price pop up close to the market price cap into the afternoon – such as this example from 13:35 market time:

Demand flattens in NSW over the prior hour to 13:35 NEM time

What was more of a surprise was to see the demand flatten off over the prior hour (compared to the morning’s forecast), as noted in the image above.  No doubt something to do with the storms progressing through the western areas:


However by 13:50 we see that AEMO had issued an “Actual LOR2” Market Notice (from 13:30 market time) warning that available reserves in NSW had dropped below the 2nd warning level (meaning, in simple terms, that a large unit trip would probably result in some loss of load):

IRPM drops to a meagre 5% as NSW wishes for a cool change to reduce demand

As it turns out, the NSW demand today peaked 5 minutes before this snapshot – with a level of 12,822MW at 13:45 – thereafter commencing a steep decline as the storm front cooled proceedings markedly, as shown here an hour afterwards in the 14:45 snapshot with demand now 1,550MW lower than today’s peak:

Demand drops sharply in the NSW region as the cool change passes through

Not surprisingly, we see prices have subsided.

This cool change will have satisfied overheated residents in the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong area.  It might have also cooled off some sweaty brows amongst those responsible for maintaining AEMO’s impressive record of keeping the lights on…

About the Author

Paul McArdle
One of three founders of Global-Roam back in 2000, Paul has been CEO of the company since that time. As an author on WattClarity, Paul's focus has been to help make the electricity market more understandable.

1 Comment on "NSW demand tops 12,800MW and reserves tighten today – prior to the cool change"

  1. Hi Paul,
    Note that Tomago (800MW) was taken off just after the first $13800 5 minute price, just before the weather change. AGL ability to do this for a couple of hours is a significant tool to reduce VOLL in the market. Also may affect who wins a barbie!
    Great web site.

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