What prompts spikes in demand?

The mercury suddenly soars above forty degrees. And, when the heat is on, Australia’s electricity system is suddenly put to the test. We go from asking for a dribble of energy to a sudden tidal wave. And our systems need to respond quickly. We need that energy. We need a lot of it. And we happen to need it right now!

The below is just one example. On a mild day – typical t-shirt weather – the most we ask for is 1,500 MW. Then, things begin to swelter, and we hit 3,000 MW. It is like our population doubled in a single day!

What impact does this have on our energy system?

This sudden spike in energy demand has a massive impact on the way our whole energy system works. Our energy system needs to be built to cater for these peak events – even though they very rarely happen. This means extra poles and wires and enough generation so we are ready for when those hot days hit.

So, what is going on here? That is a question that CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is looking to answer.

CSIRO is conducting the definitive study into how Australian households use energy on the hottest days of the year.

They are looking to know what is driving those massive peaks, to understand how extreme temperatures are impacting everyday households, and to discover ways to make summer energy affordable and comfortable, while reducing some of the stress on our energy networks.

How can you get involved?

CSIRO is asking for Australian households to tell them about their energy world through a new app they have developed called CSIRO Energise. Inputs will help power a whole program of federally funded research that is tackling these tricky summer questions. And CSIRO will be reporting back regularly through the app on some of their most exciting and important discoveries.

It is hoped that the findings from the study can then play a role in creating a more secure, reliable and sustainable energy future for all Australians.

To get involved and learn more about the CSIRO Energise app and the summer study program, head to CSIRO’s website.