Australia is no stranger to the effects of heatwaves – in fact, they’re of the highest levels during the summer. Heatwaves are one of the most dangerous disasters of mankind, causing the deaths of many people in a matter of minutes.
Heatwaves can have a significant impact on electricity generation and distribution. Some of the effects of heatwaves on electricity include:
- Increased demand for cooling: During a heatwave, there is a surge in demand for air conditioning, which puts additional strain on the electricity grid. This increased demand for cooling can cause power outages or brownouts, especially during peak hours when the demand for electricity is already high.
- Impact on power plants: Extreme heat can also affect the operation of power plants, leading to decreased efficiency and even shutdowns. For example, heat can cause thermal power plants to reduce output due to decreased efficiency of steam turbines, while hydroelectric power plants may experience reduced output due to low water levels.
- Overloading of transmission lines: Heatwaves can also lead to increased demand for electricity. Because people avoid the outdoors during a heatwave, they tend to consume electricity more by running more ventilation devices, fans and air conditioners than usual, at higher levels. This reaction causes a sudden spike in the electrical supply, and a power outage is more likely to happen. During peak hours sometimes the grid cannot keep up with the electricity demand. And can cause transmission lines to become overheated and possibly break down. This results in power outages and disruption of electricity supply.
- Impacts on renewable energy sources: Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power can also be affected by heatwaves. For example, high temperatures can reduce the efficiency of solar panels and reduce wind speeds, leading to reduced output from these sources.
Overall, heatwaves can have a significant impact on the electricity grid, leading to increased demand, decreased supply, and disruptions in service. It is important for electricity providers to take steps to mitigate these effects, such as investing in energy storage systems and upgrading infrastructure to ensure the reliability and resiliency of the electricity grid during heatwaves.
Power outages are common during a heatwave, particularly if it goes on over three or more consecutive days. Other factors that cause great stress to the power grids and supplies are local faults, bushfires or generator faults.
There are three basic types of power interruptions that can happen during a heatwave:
A branch of a tree stuck to a line, a vehicular accident that happened to hit a pole, equipment failing – these are examples of localised outages, and some others may be due to heat and high electricity demand. Supply is restored once repairs take place.
Power System Disturbance
When a major event disturbs the power system’s security, power interruption over a wide area may occur. Bushfires, for example, can cause short-circuit to power lines. It takes a few hours to repair the power system.
Involuntary Load Shedding
This is when the energy market operator switches off sections of the grid until increased supply can be restored, or the electricity demand reduces, known as ‘rolling blackouts’. This does not normally happen often, and efforts are taken to minimise this.
Thankfully, the occurrence of heatwaves is often predictable, enabling us to plan accordingly. Make sure to get real-time information from your local utility provider to find out when the next local fault happens. Monitor reports and updates on electricity and system demand through your local electrical company. Act with simple measures as well, such as increasing your air conditioner’s cooling temperature to help mitigate electricity demand.
Heatwaves? No Problem!
If you live on the South Coast and are in need of an immediate electrical fix during a heatwave, Baycoast Electrical & Control Solutions is more than happy to help. Our servicing areas include Bermagui, Nowra, Kiama, Narooma and many other surrounding towns such as Ulladulla, Batemans Bay, Tomakin, Moruya, Tuross Head, Dalmeny, Bodalla, and Eurobodalla. If you don’t see your town listed, chances are you’re still within our reach. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call.