Some quick notes about another price spike today in the South Australian region of Australia’s National Electricity Market
economic withholding of capacity
A quick review of some activity in the market on Monday 2nd November 2009 (and in particular a price spike in South Australia).
One of 12 articles on the months past in the NEM. Analysis of July has revealed that the peak NEM-wide demand for the past 3 years has occurred in winter – and has been significantly higher than the peak summer demand.
One of 12 articles on the months past in the NEM. June has brought us several cases of “economic witholding of capacity” – particularly in 2002, and in 2007 the NEM had a very interesting week in which the IRPM plunged to its lowest level ever.
One of 12 articles on the months past in the NEM. For January we revisit events such as the fires at Moomba in 2004 (which curtailed gas supplies from central Australia); and the blackout on 16th January 2007 which drove the price to VOLL in Victoria.
Our Managing Director was asked to speak at the “Queensland Energy” conference in Brisbane on Wednesday 12th March – specifically addressing the topic of price volatility in the NEM.
To provide the basis of discussion during the conference, we focused our analysis solely on Queensland region (to make the topic more manageable).
In our review of volatility in the Queensland region, we focused specifically on 3 core attributes of the market: Queensland dispatch prices; NEM-Wide Instantaneous Reserve Plant Margin; and the concept of “Economic Islands”.
In Queensland we experienced one of the mildest summers I can remember. As a result of this, demand levels were subdued for most of summer. However, for a couple of days in late February, summer finally arrived, and struck with a vengeance.
There was a temperature-driven spike in demand across the NEM later in the week beginning Sunday 7th January – culminating in the summer’s first demand peak above 30,000MW (on Thursday 11th January).
On this occasion, the spot price spiked above $1000/MWh in Queensland, NSW, Snowy and Victoria,
There was a temperature-driven spike in demand in South Australia on Friday 8th December 2006.
However, demand also spiked on other days in the week, and on those occasions did not lead to the price spikes seen on the Friday.
There was a temperature-driven spike in demand in NSW on Tuesday 21st November 2006.
These sweltering temperatures combined with bushfires to cause localised blackouts in the Sydney city area, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald in the article “Power jitters as heat bites”.
From the start of the NEM through until 2001, the NEM was typified by a pricing dichotomy with sustained rock-bottom pricing in NSW, Snowy and Victoria and high and volatile pricing in the extremities (Queensland and South Australia).
In 2001, the QNI interconnection and many generation projects were developed. This led to the convergence of prices between all regions, and the disappearance of price volatility – circumstances that were a real threat to generator profitability.
In response, generators adopted an approach that came to be known as “the economic withholding of capacity” to engineer volatility into the market throughout winter 2002 – and hence higher prices as a result., and generator behaviour.
This week saw a new record demand in NSW of 13,292MW on Thursday 2nd February. Correspondingly, average prices were above $100/MWh in both NSW and Queensland – but the price spikes did not transfer to the southern regions.
Demand in Victoria peaked again, bringing with it high prices in Victoria and (to a lesser extent) South Australia.
Indeed, the demand experienced in Victoria (on Friday 24th February) exceeded the previous high level of 8,552MW for summer, set in January 2006.
Our analysis looked at generator behaviour on the occasions of these price spikes.
Summer 2005-06 saw Australians sweltering in temperatures 40 degrees and above.
In the National Electricity Market, this led to new peaks in demand and (given the tight supply/demand balance) delivered high (and volatile) spot market pricing.
Here we have compiled a weekly summary of events in the NEM over summer 2005-06.