Australian Electricity Demand in May 2020

Last month we showed some analysis that indicated that the impact of Covid-19 on electricity demand in Australia was not as great as many other countries. Demand was down by 3% across Australia but factors such as the weather and increased roof-top solar may have been greater contributors to this change than the lockdown brought on by Governments reaction to the virus.

This month we will review the data again to see if there is any clearer picture evolving around any demand reductions.

Total electricity consumption across the NEM (referred to by AEMO as the Operational Demand which importantly omits the impact of rooftop generation), was down 2% on last year. As in April this is not a significant decline. There were 2 less working days in May 2020 compared to a year ago so you would have expected a decrease in consumption, so a 2% overall reduction is even less significant.

The breakdown by State was a 1% reduction in NSW, 5% in QLD, 1% is VIC, a 4% increase in SA and a 1% reduction in TAS. The following graphs show the weekday / weekend breakdown by State.

VIC Average Electricity Load Profile – May 2019 / 2020
NSW Average Electricity Load Profile – May 2019 / 2020
SA Average Electricity Load Profile – May 2019 / 2020
TAS Average Electricity Load Profile – May 2019 / 2020

The largest drop in consumption was in QLD. This change appears to be reasonably consistent across the day and for weekends as well as weekdays. Temperatures in QLD in May this year were considerably lower than last year. In 2019 temperatures were on average about 1 degree warmer than normal whereas this year it was 0.5 degree cooler than normal. Given that cooling is a large driver of load in QLD at least some of the 5% reduction may be due to these cooler conditions.

SA had a significant increase in consumption compared to a year earlier. This can particularly be seen across the morning and evening peaks. Again temperatures were cooler than a year earlier but in southern States this more than likely leads to increased heating loads particularly in the mornings and evenings.

Changes in NSW, VIC and TAS were very moderate.

So as with April our conclusion is that there has been little if any reduction in demand in May due to the lockdown. Spot market prices have been depressed but this probably has more to do with other factors such as low fuel prices and increased renewable presentation.