Heatwaves and Wind Power in South Australia

In this post I show some early results from an ongoing analysis of wind power supplied during recent heatwaves in South Australia (SA). We already know that heatwaves in SA are SOMETIMES associated with low daytime wind conditions, one aim of the analysis is to determine how often that association applies.

In 2012 the AEMO produced a plot of total demand and wind power in SA during a major heatwave in 2011 (see below for source information, the words above the figure were part of the AEMO submission):


It can be seen that the nights must have been quite windy, but for three consecutive days the wind died almost completely around the times of peak demand, which occur in late afternoon/early evening.

I have started to look at what happened during recent heatwaves in SA, using data available from the AEMO on total demand and on the outputs of the individual generators. The actual megawatt outputs of all the wind farms located in SA (listed below) were sampled at 30-minute intervals and summed to give the total wind power (red curve) in the following figure, which also shows the total demand for SA (black curve):


For this particular heatwave, 15th to 18th December 2015, again it was quite windy at night but the wind dropped considerably during the day, but with daytime winds returning on the fourth day as the heatwave started to end.


It is not possible to reach any conclusions on the basis of just two heatwaves, but it may be that heatwaves in SA are OFTEN (rather than just sometimes) associated with low wind conditions, which would be bad news for consumers of electricity in that state, see elsewhere on this blog for further discussion of the electricity system capacity in SA.


For the source of the AEMO plot above, do an internet search for “aemo 2012 parliament heatwave”, click on the link, download the file named 160, then add a .pdf extension. The internet search will return something like:

[PDF]AEMO – Parliament of South Australia


23 Nov 2012 – in June 2012, AEMO published the first independent electricity demand ….. The following graph shows one recent South Australian heat wave,.

For links to the AEMO demand and generator data see the “NEM ELECTRICITY DATA” page above.

The complete list of SA wind farms is (using their NEM code names):                  ‘CATHROCK’; ‘LKBONNY1’; ‘LKBONNY2′;’LKBONNY3’; ‘CNUNDAWF’; ‘MTMILLAR’; ‘STARHLWF’; ‘WPWF’; ‘BLUFF1’; ‘CLEMGPWF’;’HALLWF1′; ‘HALLWF2’; ‘NBHWF1’; ‘SNOWNTH1’; ‘SNOWSTH1’; ‘SNOWTWN1′;’WATERLWF’;


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2 Responses to Heatwaves and Wind Power in South Australia

  1. Greg Kaan says:

    Another great post. Given the thermal plant closures discussed in your previous posts, it looks like any repeat of December 17th 2015’s conditions, will pose a grave risk of blackout next summer and a certainty for the following summer.


    • climanrecon says:

      In a system with central planning Torrens A would be refurbished and kept running, and the closed half of Pelican Point re-opened, but why would a private sector company take the risk in a market with falling demand (due to ever increasing renewables)?


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