So you want reliable power?

Want reliable power? Don’t bank on coal says the AEMO

Hmm… one of the key arguments made by the LNP and their supporters is the need for coal (and, to a lesser extent, gas) power stations to provide reliability. Even their nod at a renewables option – the Snowy 2.0 project – is about providing reliable baseline power.

So what does the Australian Energy Market Operator say? “Extreme weather over summer could reduce the output of COAL, GAS and HYDRO power generators and cause problems with the reliability of electricity supply”

Coal, in particular, doesn’t work well when the weather gets hot. They need to be cooled, nearly always by water. When that water gets warm, it doesn’t cool as well, and the coal-based power systems start to shut down. Gas turbines have similar problems – not as severe, but they exist. Hydro’s problem is that drought reduces the size of water reservoirs, which means that there may not even be available water to run through the generators. This isn’t a big deal for stored-power hydro stations (which refill their reservoirs), but is a big problem for regular hydro plants.

Fun fact: the major power disruptions over the last few years have been because of failures with either coal or gas stations, or due to disruptions in the network. The adoption of solar, in particular, can be credited for preventing daytime power disruptions.

Author: Robert Watkins

My name is Robert Watkins. I am a software developer and have been for over 20 years now. I currently work for people, but my opinions here are in no way endorsed by them (which is cool; their opinions aren’t endorsed by me either). My main professional interests are in Java development, using Agile methods, with a historical focus on building web based applications. I’m also a Mac-fan and love my iPhone, which I’m currently learning how to code for. I live and work in Brisbane, Australia, but I grew up in the Northern Territory, and still find Brisbane too cold (after 22 years here). I’m married, with two children and one cat. My politics are socialist in tendency, my religious affiliation is atheist (aka “none of the above”), my attitude is condescending and my moral standing is lying down.

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