AEMO’s Operational Forecasting team have provided an update to their expected electricity demand, following their recent COVID-19 demand advisement.

AEMO advised that they expect that reductions in demand may continue to increase incrementally over time at current levels of restrictions, with some states likely to exhibit changes in demand.

Some potential COVID-19 demand impacts have now been recognised in Victoria , where average demand reduction during morning peaks reached eight per cent (approx. 400MW) for the first time over a working week in the state. 

The midday trough fell five per cent (approx. 200MW) from pre-COVID-19 levels on weekdays and three per cent on weekends (approx. 100MW), and rooftop solar variability makes it uncertain if the demand reductions are from COVID-19.

VIC actual operational demand against pre-COVID-19 control model. Reductions on the morning peak beginning to be observed, with the magnitude and timing of the morning peak shifting later in the day. Potential reductions in the midday trough were also observed.

[Graph demonstrating operational demand in VIC during April 2020]

Elsewhere across Australia, COVID-19 demand reductions continue to be observed in Queensland and New South Wales, which has seen further falls in demand over the weekday morning and night-time, while reductions continue to be lower on weekends. 

Some insights include:

  • Reductions of eight to ten per cent (approx. 600MW to 700MW) were observed in the morning, and six to seven per cent (approx. 500MW to 600MW) were observed in the afternoon on weekdays. The evening peak remains less impacted, with average reductions of three to four percent (approx. 300MW to 400MW) being observed on weekdays.
  • Reductions in demand in NSW continues to be lower on weekends than on weekdays. Consistent reductions of four to six per cent (up to 400MW) were observed across most of the day except for the evening peak which appears to be marginally impacted by one to two per cent.
  • Queensland has seen a small increase in demand compared to the last two weeks, however, demand is still lower than what it was in early April. The greatest reductions, of between eight and nine per cent (approx. 450MW to 550MW) were observed on weekday mornings. Queensland reductions were similar to NSW in that they demonstrated a lower impact on weekends than weekdays.
  • South Australia has demonstrated some demand reductions, however, the natural variability in demands means that no conclusive attribution to COVID-19 can be made.
  • Tasmania continues not to demonstrate any demand reductions outside of natural variability.

Change in the across-the-day demand profile in all regions has been observed, with morning peaks observed later than usual for this time of year, nominally due to people working from home and getting up later.

As Australia’s restrictions are lifted state by state demand is expected to increase, as has been demonstrated in overseas cases, including, most prominently, Italy.

In addition, AEMO expects that as cooler weather prevails, Australians might see an increase in load volatility, reflective of a greater proportion of residential (weather sensitive) load on the grid. All regions except Queensland are expected to see a lift in maximum and minimum demands during the cold weather.

AEMO said it will continue to provide updates on all the latest pandemic related impacts and activity domestically and internationally.

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