Hot weather (and LNG gas demand) drives Queensland electricity demand to a new all-time peak

At the end of last summer, I completed some analysis of summer demand levels for each region – and, with particular reference to this analysis for Queensland, noted that summer 2015-16 was expected to see high demand levels indeed (resulting from a step-change in industrial demand with upstream electric compression at the gas fields for LNG export), especially if an El Nino summer eventuated.

On Thursday last week I posted this forewarning of what has indeed unfolded yesterday and today…

Yesterday we saw the Queensland scheduled demand (dispatch target) rise above 9,000MW for the first time, driving Queensland well and truly into the red zone within our NEM-Watch dashboard display:


I did not have time to post about this yesterday, but I did manage to post the image from 16:55 on Twitter and LinkedIn.  As shown in this snapshot, the highest the demand reached yesterday was 9158MW at 16:45, just 10 minutes before this snapshot was taken.

Last week the forecast was for a higher demand on Tuesday than on Monday (in line with the higher temperatures forecast) so this morning I was keen to check AEMO’s predispatch forecast in NEM-Watch, which showed an expectation that demand would rise to above 9,300MW as shown in this snapshot from 05:50 this morning:


I was also interested to see, in flipping through the Courier Mail this morning, that Energex was quoted saying the demand in the Energex zone was still 260MW below the all-time record for the south-east corner:

“Energex’s record for summer peak demand is 4760 megawatts, which was recorded in the summer of 2009/2010. Yesterday’s electricity demand stood at 4500 at 5pm,” a spokesman said. “Tuesday’s demand could go even higher and could set a new record for electricity use, due to the expected higher temperature forecast for the day,” he said.”

This helps to indicate the significance of the upstream gas compression pushing the state-wide consumption figure through the roof (also keeping in mind that the APVI estimated that there was 219MW being delivered to the grid at 16:55 from the 1000MW+ of installed small-scale solar PV in the state, hence reducing scheduled demand by that amount – outputs also seen in NEM-Watch).

From 05:50 this morning the demand climbed into the 7000MW range at 06:45 (7015MW) and into the 8000MW range at 08:50 (8010MW), and continued to climb – as early as 10:40 the demand was up at 8,707MW with Brisbane temperature showing 35 humid degrees in NEM-Watch:


In comparison between the NSW region (where demand has grown from 7,550MW to 8,752MW over the same period – so by 1,202MW) we see Queensland demand has grown from 6,383MW to 8,707MW in the same period (by 2,324MW or almost twice as fast).  At 11:00 we saw a (surprisingly rare, this summer so far) spike up to near the market price cap, with demand still higher at 8,758MW:


As one indication (albeit imperfect) of the scale of demand response active in the Queensland region, we see that the scheduled demand target for 11:05 has dropped from 8,758MW to 8,413MW (a not-insignificant drop of 345MW given that demand has been otherwise climbing through the morning):


It was just after midday (12:05) when the demand made it above 9,000MW for the second day in a row (and the second time ever) – as shown in this NEM-Watch snapshot:


More startling is the fact that AEMO’s predispatch forecast for peak demand later today has been growing through the day – with an expectation that the peak will be a little above 9,600MW around 16:30 and 17:00 (with cloud cover keeping the humidity in, but dampening the effect of solar).  If this comes to fruition, this would smash the record set just yesterday by almost 500MW!

I have afternoon commitments which might mean I can’t return to this topic till much later – rather than miss the publishing deadline I’ll make this live now and then (I hope) return to it later today…

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.

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