Rolling blackouts could become a way of life in summer according to the Australian Energy Market Operator which is warning four-hour blackouts could plague Victoria and South Australia for the next decade if more is not done to increase energy supply.
In the release of its annual stocktake of electricity supplies last Tuesday the operator showed there was a heightened risk of a shortfall in supply, unless governments follow through on plans for new battery storage and diesel generators.
The risk has been further heightened after AGL announced plans to close the Liddell power station in NSW, with AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman stating the power system does not have the reserves it once had.
UDV president Adam Jenkins has called on the federal and state governments to ‘‘sort out’’ their energy policy, with fears that power outages could have severe consequences for the dairy industry.
‘‘It starts to have huge animal welfare implications when you can’t milk regularly and clean your plant and cool milk,’’ he said.
‘‘That impacts on your bottom line, and as dairy farmers this is an essential service so we would hope that organisations are putting things in place (to prevent blackouts).’’
Although Mr Jenkins agreed that new technology would potentially ease the power strain in the future, he said the industry still required quality infrastructure to ensure power could remain reliable and affordable.
‘‘The UDV is fearful of massive increases in power cutting into the business bottom line,’’ he said.
‘‘Increases in power costs, increases in the supply chain usually ends up back at the farm gate.’’
While coal-fired plants have been shut down, there has been a rise in proposals for solar farms, with a $75million solar farm on the corner of Wunghnu and Kelly Rds in Drumanure expected to provide power for up to 42000 homes.
Although given the green light by the local council, the solar farm is not due to be complete until October next year, providing no relief for energy supplies in the coming summer months.
Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the AEMO report was ‘‘no surprise’’.
‘‘This AEMO report does confirm our concerns about the impact on price and reliability that comes from the accelerated closure of coal-fired power stations,’’ he said.
‘‘The recommendations from AEMO in the short term about having a strategic reserve to meet the supply shortfall, and in the longer term to investigate and to consider changes to the market design to ensure that we have more dispatchable power available, are very significant.’’