WA Braces For Summer Peak Electricity Demand

Summer electricity demand in Western Australia

Households in Perth and Peel are being encouraged to use electricity wisely during peak demand periods over the coming summer months.

Numerous blackouts that began on Christmas Eve and lasted until December 28 last year impacted 107,000 Western Power customers. An independent review undertaken by the Australian Energy Market Commission’s Michelle Shepherd found the events were the result of record-breaking high temperatures over those four days. Parts of the network didn’t have capacity to meet the unusually high electricity demand driven primarily by extensive air-conditioner use.

With temperatures from December 2022 to February 2023 expected to exceed the median maximum, there are concerns of a repeat of blackouts this year – and hotter summers in the years head are expected to become the norm as a result of climate change.

Among the recommendations in the review report – all of which were to be implemented by Western Power – were improvements to customer and community communications. As part of that effort, Western Australia’s McGowan Government, Western Power and Synergy yesterday launched the Summer Readiness campaign.

“The Summer Readiness campaign aims to drive awareness and education around energy consumption as everyone starts to play a more active role in WA’s energy transformation,” said WA Energy Minister Bill Johnston.

The campaign seeks to have households rein in electricity consumption during peak demand periods, which occur between 5pm and 9pm when most people arrive home and switch on their air conditioners and other household appliances. Western Power will also be sending alert texts this summer to electricity customers in suburbs at risk of power supply interruptions; encouraging them to reduce energy consumption to help avoid a blackout.

“Our hotter summers are driving peak demand and there are some simple things we can all do around the home to reduce our electricity consumption and save money,” said Minister Johnston. “By working together, we can make our system more reliable, and you’ll save money on your power bills.”

On a related note, Premier Mark McGowan has reportedly admitted the state will be forced to import coal from New South Wales over the coming years as Western Australia transitions away from coal power.

Solar Power And Home Batteries In A Blackout

Home solar is popular in Western Australia, but most WA solar owners are in the same boat as their non-PV neighbours during a blackout even if it occurs under favourable conditions for solar energy generation.

Solar inverters have a required safety feature called “anti-islanding protection“, which shuts down the inverter when an interruption to mains supply is detected. This is to protect crews working on restoring mains power and further potential damage to grid hardware from solar electricity continuing to be exported into the grid.

For owners of solar panels to have power during a blackout, a home battery is generally needed1. But not all solar batteries are equal in this regard as their backup capabilities vary. Not understanding the difference between backup levels is one of the top mistakes people make when buying home batteries.

Footnotes

  1. There are some inverters that offer limited backup functionality without a battery, such as the Fronius Primo GEN24 Plus.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Incentivise:

    Energy efficiency
    Day time pre cooling and other demand
    Western solar
    Demand management

    I think WA is already rolling out community storage

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