NZ finds it hard to keep the electricity going on a cold day
PM Jacinda Adern wants NZ to be a nation of electric vehicles, all powered by electricity.
Nationwide power worries – Transpower issues warning as winter big chill kicks in, threat now under control
Transpower this morning issued a nationwide warning notice – revealing there was a risk of insufficient power generation and reserve to meet the country’s demand – as Kiwis woke to a bitterly cold day.
The state-owned enterprise issued the warning today as the first big winter chill has hit this week, with Kiwis most likely pumping their heaters.
Transpower CEO Alison Andrew said this morning’s grid emergency was due to losing generation from three sources including a Contact Energy power station, Genesis’ power station in Huntly and a wind drop from 90 to 30 megawatts.
“This morning we called a grid emergency just before 8am, which is during the morning peak, to make sure we could stabilise grid security.”
Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Kerre Woodham, Andrew said the emergency was all over by 9.30am and most consumers wouldn’t have noticed.
Lines companies were asked to reduce their controllable load which impacts things like hot water cylinders, said Andrew.
“As a system operator we have to manage the power system in real time and when these situations happen we need a good response from our industry participants to make sure we keep the lights on for New Zealanders.”
Asked how the entity would handle a similar situation in a future where everyone was driving electric vehicles, Andrew said they are working hard to find new ways to be able to respond.
She said there is a lot of interest to build renewable energy sources in New Zealand, with over 100 inquiries, but that this work comes with peculiar challenges and solutions for dry years and winter peaks need to be found.
“At Transpower we are working hard to make sure we have the capacity to connect people up to the grid for their new demand or generation as quickly as we can.”
The notice, which was issued at 7.58am, said “This is a New Zealand-wide emergency”.
“The System Operator advises there is a risk of insufficient generation and
reserve offers to meet demand and provide N-1 security for a contingent event.”
Heather du Plessis-Allan: Are we running this country on Blu-Tack and paperclips?
Are we running this country on Blu-Tack and paperclips?
We almost had power cuts again this morning and apparently we need to get used to it because this is just the way our winters are going to be from now on.
So what happened was that Transpower issued a grid emergency just before 8am warning that we might not have enough electricity to power the country.
Reporters were on the radio telling people to delay charging laptops and cell phones and consider turning off unnecessary lights.
Lines companies were turning ripple-controlled hot water systems in people’s homes.
Three things went wrong all at the same time: a gas turbine in Stratford failed to spark, one of Huntly’s turbines stopped working properly and the wind dropped which mean the wind farms stopped producing enough power.
This is close to a repeat of what happened last year when a bunch of things went wrong all at exactly the same time: some seaweed got stuck in a hydro pump, Huntly couldn’t fire up another generator fast enough and the wind dropped.
Last year, Megan Woods, the Energy Minister, tried to pretend it was a one-off.
But it doesn’t look like it is.
Transpower has warned that there are another 12 days left between now and early August where power could be at risk if only two big things go wrong.
That’s almost a quarter of the time.
The reason this is happening is because we don’t have enough capacity if things go wrong.
In the last seven years, both Contact and Mercury shut down some generation capacity: Contact at Otahuhu and Mercury at Southdown.
And now we’re cutting it fine.
Electricity consultant Murray Ellis reckons there isn’t enough extra capacity being built to change this.
So this is us this winter and next winter and next winter.
At this point you’re probably wondering what are we going to do about it?
Well so am I. So I called Megan Woods’ office to ask if I sent them questions would they answer them in an hour and they said no.
So I don’t know what we’re going to do about it.
But neither do they by the looks of things.