Coping with hotter summers: the challenge for our electricity system
Climate change means that we are facing hotter summers. As homes and businesses switch on their air conditioners on a hot summer afternoon, power stations must ramp up production to meet the peak demand. The owners of the ‘poles and wires’ have been planning and building for years to ensure our power networks will cope. If any part of the system fails, blackouts can occur, with severe consequences for people and businesses.
With so much at stake, what can we learn from how electricity demand patterns have changed in recent years and what does this mean for the future of peak demand? How might our expectations or the power system need to change in the face of a changing climate? And how will the system cope when more of our power comes from wind turbines and solar panels, which cannot always operate at full capacity at the times when more power is needed?
On 30 April, as part of the ‘Energy Futures’ series, the Melbourne Energy Institute and Grattan Institute co-hosted a public forum on the future of peak demand in Australia.