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Our Energy Sources | Enova Community Energy

 

About high energy demand spikes

The National Electricity Market - NEM (NEM) is our central energy system, comprised of five physically connected states on the east coast of Australia. Electricity for the central energy system is generated (by generators such as wind farms or coal stations) and delivered by energy networks (distributors) via high voltage and lower voltage regulated energy networks or as we commonly refer to them as the "poles and wires". From there energy retailers, such as Enova Energy then retail electricity to households and businesses, with a variety of customer services, offers and products to suit their needs. 

 

At times, the networks and the NEM central energy system (often referred to as 'the grid') experience large, synchronised surges of energy consumption.

 

When this occurs, increased energy generation is required to supply the central energy system with enough energy to meet Australia's power needs. 

 

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Why do energy high demand spikes occur?

Quite simply, demand spikes usually happen when Australians suddenly use more energy than usual. This is most often triggered due to seasonal reactions by customers to weather events during Winter and Summer.

 

Cold snaps can suddenly have plenty of Australians warming up with their heaters or cooling down with air-conditioners enduring heat waves.

 

Often this surge happens during the peak times of 5:30 pm - 9:30pm. This is when people return home after a day's work and either pop on a heater to warm up a cold house, or turn on air conditioning to cool a hot house.

 

SAY WATT?! ⚽

During the 1990 World Cup, England experienced their largest ever "TV pickup" energy demand surge. A massive spike in energy demand occurred when many avid football fans in synchronicity turned on appliances like kettles after a penalty shootout. 

 

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What is happening in the Australian Energy Market right now?

 

During the last few weeks of May 2021, we saw some very unusual behaviour in the energy market, along with high demand due to the start of winter and colder temperatures being experienced across many states.

 

At this time, Enova understands that some of the peaking gas plants that are in the market to help with high energy demand spikes, are making the market price unnecessarily high.

 

These gas-fired peaking plants, also known as "peak-lopping" or "peaker plants", are power plants designed to step in quickly when more power generation is needed. They're also designed to only run for a short time - until the energy demand drops or during supply issues from other generation. 

 
In May 2021 the energy market situation became more difficult, when an explosion at a large coal power station caused a sudden drop of energy supply. This made the demand and supply balance difficult to manage - possibly for weeks or months. 
 

In these high demand times, we also see some energy generation company’s ability to take advantage of the market conditions by selling the energy they generate at incredibly high prices - up to 300 times the normal cost of supply.

 

Though these price spikes are short-lived, they have a significant impact on the average cost of energy. The last week of May 2021 saw the market’s average price in New South Wales to be more than four times the average price of the past 12 months! 

 

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Who do high demand spikes affect and how? 

A sharp increase in energy demand means more energy is needed and quickly. Energy generators (such as wind farms and coal fire stations) must work harder than usual to meet the needs of the energy system to provide energy to Australians.  

 

The spike in demand puts increased pressure to deliver on the energy generators, the central system and the networks - who then pass on the costs to energy providers such as Enova.  

 

Over time, recurring spikes can permanently raise the average energy market prices and cost to provide energy to customers.

 

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How you can make a difference

When there is less peak time energy demand from customers, this helps to keeps energy generation costs down. The lower these costs stay over time means lower pricing in the long run for everyone.  

 

Enova customers can help by reducing their energy usage during the peak times (5:30 pm – 9:30 pm) or by changing their energy usage to other times of the day.

If you have solar, check out our free eBook on best tips to use the solar you generate and how to load shift your energy use so you’re using the free clean energy your solar system produces.

 

Some simple changes can really have a big impact between 5.30pm - 9.30pm:

  • Turning down heaters and reverse-cycle air conditioning
    • Did you know that simply dialling down the thermostat on your heater by just 1 degree can reduce energy use by up to 10%?
  • Save energy by switching off any appliances that are just sitting on standby and not being used
  • Avoid using your washing machine or dishwasher in the evenings
    • If your washing machine or dishwasher has a timer function, you can run these appliances around midday, or overnight, to reduce use at the peak times
  • If you’d like to know some other tips on how to balance your energy usage in winter, check out our Winter tips blog
  • Or, if you're feeling the heat don't miss the top 10 ways to reduce your Summer energy usage and bill

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How Enova is responding to high energy demand spikes

One of Enova's core missions is to continually provide competitively priced and reliable energy to our customers. 

 

In an effort to prevent future price revisions and immediately reduce high energy demands, when a spike is predicted Enova asks its customers to consider reducing their usage during the predicted surge period. 

 

Additionally, in 2021 Enova has written to the ACCC asking it to investigate the price spikes, and if necessary to get regulators to intervene. 

 

Click here to read more about Enova's request of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate potential market gaming in the NSW electricity market.

 

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How can this issue be fixed long term? 

Enova is advocating for a better alternative and is helping the future to be decentralised. An energised Australia where we no longer rely on large scale generation, but instead, electricity is generated, stored and shared amongst communities. Plus, the bonus is this energy is much cleaner too!  

Even the Australian Energy Market Commission can confirm the future that’s in the pipeline (or powerline) with clean localised energy that’s shared and stored - you can read about the "Grid of the Future" here.

 

Learn more about Enova's innovative projects that offer an alternative to the current system:

We’re also passionate about providing an alternative to the old energy model, so that economic benefits don’t flow out of every region. Instead, money stays and circulates locally, making for stronger communities and stronger regions. 

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Enova's energy efficiency coaches

If you’re interested in learning more about the areas where you can improve the energy efficiency in your home, we can help. 

 

Enova Community’s team of volunteer energy coaches are available to households to give you guidance on improving your home’s energy efficiency.

 

We’re passionate about this because finding ways to use less energy allows everyone to take immediate action on reducing their carbon emissions.  

 

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