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Queensland power grid to struggle with heatwave conditions

Queensland power grid to struggle with heatwave conditions

3 February, 2022

Power providers are bracing for near-record demand on Tuesday evening after temperatures soared across Queensland throughout the day.

Adding to electricity supply woes was a storm raging in south-east Queensland that knocked power out to 24,135 properties at 6.30 pm, mostly in Brisbane’s south and Logan.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned that Queensland’s power grid, already hindered by reduced generation capacity, could struggle to cope with customer demand.

“We do expect to see the peak of use of all of our energy supplies this evening, so please listen, there may be some messages about asking you not to use your dryers or pool filters during the peak,” Ms. Palaszczuk said.

And those messages did come from Powerlink Queensland, which is responsible for energy transmission infrastructure across the state.

Powerlink suggested reducing the number of household rooms being airconditioned or running the devices “a couple of degrees higher”, turning off pool pumps and second fridges, turning off televisions and other appliances in standby mode, and switching off unnecessary lighting.

Chief executive Paul Simshauser said Queensland was expected to reach a peak demand of 10,032 megawatts later on Tuesday, close to the 2019 record of 10,044 megawatts.

“Unfortunately, Queensland has several large generators undergoing emergency maintenance, which has reduced available supply,” he said.

Among those was the Callide C unit 4 turbine at the Callide Power Station.

Last year, an explosion at the power station left more than 400,000 properties across Queensland without power.

More than eight months after the explosion, the second-largest steam turbine at the station, Callide C unit 4, remains offline.

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said “big industrial users” had been asked to reduce their electricity use.

“Essential services such as hospitals, transport networks, ports, airports, and other key infrastructure will stay online,” he said.

Opposition energy spokesman Pat Weir said the stress on the grid was the result of poor planning and called for Mr de Brenni to be sacked.

“We now have the government telling Queenslanders not to use their airconditioning or clothes dryers on one of the hottest days of the year,” he said.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Brook Pagel said the heatwave was expected to continue until Thursday when some cooling rain was due to reach the southeast.

“It’s slightly easing off on Thursday, but from Thursday, we are having heavy showers, so at least the humidity is gone,” she said.

“But that’s going to be replaced by wet weather.”

Ms. Pagel said daytime temperatures would remain in the mid to high 30s.

For Brisbane, the temperature reached 34.2 degrees at midday on Tuesday, but Ms. Pagel said it would continue to feel hotter than thermometers would suggest.

“It will feel much more like 40 degrees, just because [of the] hot conditions and the humidity there,” she said.

“It’s very unusual to have them both at the same time, particularly in a heatwave format, so once they’re combined, it really ups that ‘feels-like’ temperature.”

Queensland Ambulance Service advanced care paramedic Susanna Morgan said people should try to keep cool to avoid heat-related illness.

She said symptoms could include fatigue, severe headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.

“Humidity impairs your body’s ability to evaporatively cool, so your sweating isn’t as effective in cooling your body temperature down,” Ms. Morgan said.

“You are more likely to become more dehydrated, which is why it’s important to keep hydrated.”