The National Electricity Market is big. So big, in fact, that it’s difficult to put into perspective how much electricity is flowing through it.

It takes a lot of energy to power our industries and our homes, and as the temperatures continue to rise, more and more is needed.

As we head into Christmas, let’s have a look at just how much energy we generate using the very scientific metric of Christmas Lights!

A standard set of warm white LED fairy lights with 400 bulbs – the kind you would festoon on your Christmas tree, for example, or use to decorate your house or garden – requires 12 watts. Let’s assume that we turn them on in the evening and turn them off when we go to bed – around five hours.

Using those assumptions, and cross-referencing against our generation assets, we’ve created a Christmas Light Index. For example, AGL’s Loy Yang A power station, which generates around 30% of Victoria’s electricity requirements, generates enough energy to power more than 267 billion LED fairy lights – every single day.

That’s a lot of Christmas cheer.

How many Christmas lights could our other assets power?


AGL Loy Yang A 668,545,000 267,417,882,000
AGL Macquarie (Bayswater & Liddell) 1,091,335,000 436,534,115,000
AGL Torrens 111,024,000 44,409,458,000
Bogong Hydro 3,601,000 1,440,279,000
Wattle Point Wind Farm 11,915,000 4,766,071,000
Hallett Wind Farm 53,548,000 21,419,154,000
 Oaklands Hill Wind Farm 8,343,000 3,337,396,000
Macarthur Wind Farm 47,748,000 19,099,134,000
 Silverton Wind Farm 11,677,000 4,670,617,000
Coopers Gap Wind Farm 20,000 7,911,456
Nyngan Solar Plant 11,060,000 4,424,085,000
 Broken Hill Solar Plant 5,538,000 2,215,366,000
  Total renewables      203,501,621      81,400,648,000
  Total generation      2,079,195,506      831,678,202,000

Be safe this Christmas

831 billion Christmas lights is a lot! Most of us only have one or two sets of lights on our trees – or maybe a few more decorating our houses and gardens. But regardless of how many lights we’re using, there are some important safety considerations to make sure we have a joyful – and safe – Christmas.

Only use modern Christmas lights that have a small transformer at the power point. These lights reduce the voltage to a safe level along the string of lights.

Older-style retro lights do not reduce the voltage and contain a potentially dangerous voltage throughout the system. They also run much hotter, wasting more energy and posing a significant fire risk.

Use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors, and only buy Australian-compliant lights.

When set up, run the system for several hours under close supervision to check all plugs and leads for any potential overheating. And turn off decorative lighting before going to bed or leaving your house.

Clockwise from top-left: make sure power boards are in good condition or they could short and start a fire; make sure your extension cables are also in good condition; use modern LED lights with a transformer to lower the voltage; avoid using older-style energy-inefficient lights with dangerous voltages.

And a few more tips:

  • Check old Christmas lights before re-using them - unravel them and look at the plug
  • Check the leads and lamp holders for exposed or damaged wires
  • Make sure your electrical decorations are tested and tagged, and don't alter or modify lights
  • Are your power boards in good condition? Look out for frayed or damaged cables, make sure there are no cracks or broken casing and that each plug feels firmly held when plugged in
  • Make sure the power board is not overloaded (one board per wall outlet)
  • Same goes for extension leads – make sure they are in good condition and ensure the outdoor power boards and extension lead plugs are protected from rain (raised ice cream containers or similar are great for this but ensure all leads enter facing upward so no water follows them in)