Heat Wave set to Drive Peak Electricity Demand Through the Roof

As professional tennis players collapse and ball girls are treated for heat stress at the Australian Open, Melbournites, and those living in the rest of south-east Australia, shelter from the oppressive heat wave sweeping the region in air-conditioned homes and offices.  

And where there is air-conditioning, there’s power use.

According to the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Victoria and South Australia may see new records set for peak electricity demands over the next few days.

Hot Houses

Electricity demand is highest at the end of a run of three or more hot days, when a relentless heat wave such as the one south-east Australia is experiencing becomes inescapable.

This is mainly due to building materials, such as concrete and brick, exhibiting properties of thermal lag and taking a few days to heat up and reach air temperature.  So although the temperature may remain fairly constant, by the third day, being indoors doesn’t offer much protection from the heat. By the time this occurs, most people have switched on their air-conditioners. 

New Heights

VIC Energy Demand Graph 

Victorian Electricity Demand (Source: AMEO)

SA Electricity Demand Graph

South Australian Electricity Demand (Source: AMEO) 

Based on current weather forecasts, electricity demand is expected to increase tomorrow (Thursday, 16 January) in both states by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).  Yesterday the maximum demand for electricity peaked at 10,151 MW in Victoria and South Australia peaked at 3,046 MW.  These are the highest peaks in electricity demand since the record was set at 10,415MW on 29 January 2009 in Victoria and 3,385MW on 31 January 2011 in South Australia. 

Last night (14 January) was Melbourne's warmest night since 1997 with a low of 28.6˚C.

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