Swanbank E out until September 2022 with damaged Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR)

This is not really new news … but it is for me, so I thought it might also be useful to highlight for others as well (and for future reference in other articles).

Today, amongst other things, I have been taking a pre-release copy of ez2view v9.4 for a spin, checking out the current status of a number of new widgets we have added in to meet various requirements.  It won’t be too long, now, before our growing number of clients will have access – and we’ll be very keen on client feedback!

One of the new widgets is a ‘Generator Outage’ widget that’s been designed to make generator outage plans more visible to ez2view users.  Keep in mind that:

1)  This new widget has been made possible as a result of the ERM Rule Change that made outage plans for fully Scheduled units visible out three years into the future.  This new widget follows on from the ‘MT PASA DUID Availability’ widget we released over a year ago as part of ez2view v8, and which has featured in a number of articles on WattClarity.

2)  As I have noted before, for reasons that escape me the AEMC did not see fit to also make sure that outage plans (i.e. either full or partial) for Semi-Scheduled units were also rolled up in the same rule change.

(a)  Seems not to be in interests of transparency of this energy transition.

(b)  Naturally, then, Semi-Scheduled units are not visible in this new widget, either.

3)  As Non-Scheduled units don’t bid at all, these are essentially invisible in terms of outage plans.

With these caveats in mind, here’s a snapshot of the way the widget looks:


Remember to click on the image to open in a larger view!

I’ve highlighted two units in particular…


(A)  Callide C4 unit return to service date is still 7th April 2023

Frequent readers will recall we’ve taken a keen interest in the unit following the Callide C4 Catastrophe on 25th May 2021 – and note that the unit’s current scheduled to return to service on 7th April 2023 (i.e. 377 days away still!).

Hence, the return to service expectation is still the same as it was on 30th December 2021 when I wrote this short note using the ‘MT PASA DUID Availability’ widget.


(B)  Swanbank E return to service data slipped back to 26th September 2022 (but is quite uncertain)

Readers will also recall that the Swanbank E outage was one of the factors contributing to the extreme volatility in Queensland’s ‘Heatwave Week’ of February 2021.  I’d seen the unit out at that time, and had seen the unit still out since that time, but not invested the time to dig to understand more.


(B1)  Information from CleanCo

Seeing the above sparked some more interest in understanding why the unit’s slated to be out for so long, so I looked on the CleanCo website and found this page here, which currently contains the following note:

‘Updated 25 January 2022

Swanbank E Power Station Update

CleanCo has started investigating the cause of an event that damaged the Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) at its Swanbank E Power Station on 20 December 2021.

An AVR is an electronic device that regulates voltage. It maintains the generator output voltage to ensure stable delivery of power to the electricity network.

Swanbank E Power Station cannot operate without the AVR.

We are continuing to assess the options to replace the AVR and return Swanbank E Power Station to service. It is not yet known how long it will take to replace the AVR.

CleanCo has advised the Australian Electricity Market Operator (AEMO) that its best estimate is that the power station will return to service on 26 September 2022.

The return to service date is based on the information available at this time and may change.’

(B2)  Changed expectations

Seeing as this update was published by CleanCo on 25th January 2022, I wondered what the difference in outage expectation would look like if we used the ‘MT PASA DUID Availability’ widget (using the same ‘QLD Thermal’ filter as above).  In the following snapshot, we compare the current expectation (as per the MT PASA DUID Availability run published for 18:00 today) with the MT PASA DUID Availability run published for 15:00 on 24th January 2022:


It appears that it was between 15:00 and AEMO’s run for 18:00 on Monday 24th January 2022 that CleanCo both:

1)  Published the note above on its website; and

2)  Informed the AEMO, via update to the MT PASA Availability data in its bid (which then flowed through the market in the update for 18:00 that day).

Hence that change, which CleanCo informed AEMO and the market of on 24th January 2022, must really have been a disappointing one.

(B3)  Unit tripped on 20th December 2021

Another new widget we’ve developed to the point where we are keen on feedback from customers is the ‘Bids Explorer’ widget … which uses the upgraded bids data set we massively upgraded for ez2view v9.1 in Q4 2021, but is designed to fulfil a slightly different function, in showing change in the full bid stack offers across a Trading Day.

Referring back to this on 20th December 2021, we see that the unit tripped just prior to 11:00 NEM time on the day, with a rebid offered at 10:58 in response (note that the initial expectation was a fast return to service):


There was a subsequent rebid ~30 minutes later to mark the AVR failure, and note that the unit would not be available for at least the rest of the Trading Day:


It was in between 15:00 and 18:00 on that day (20th December) that the AEMO received notice that the unit was expected to be out until 4th April 2022:


As is the case for Callide C4, this is another long outage we’ll need to keep a closer look at … especially given the CleanCo note on their website with respect to Swanbank E (published in January, but still there today) that ‘It is not yet known how long it will take to replace the AVR.’

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 "Swanbank E out until September 2022 with damaged Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR)"

  1. Paul, congratulations on the work that you do. I was looking for information on why Swanbank E has been out of service and when it’s expected to become available again. Bingo.

    A couple of other questions I can’t yet find answers to are:
    1. Where can I find information on each of the grid-connected wind turbines that shows their unavailability due to mechanical or electrical failures/faults? Individually, their forced outage doesn’t make much difference, but collectively their outages may be contributing as much to grid integrity as the coal-fired and gas-fired generating units.
    2. Where can I find information on each of the grid-connected BESS units to see how they’re performing and when they’re showing early signs of needing replacement? Just knowing how many charge-recharge cycles each installation has done, would be a leading indicator. I’ve noticed Hornsdale on numerous occasions doing more than one cycle per day. On current usage, what is the forecast date for the original batteries to be replaced.

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