Baffled By Baseload Dumbfounded By Dispatchables

Baffled By Baseload Dumbfounded By Dispatchables

The Australian energy market is a regular baseload feature in our daily news cycle. In the midst of the politics and endless ideologies swirling about the sector, technical terms like baseload power or dispatchable generation, often use so frequently that it is easy for the meaning to get lost in public discussion.

It is not clear whether energy crisis refers to prices or supply security. This is a terrible political situation that could have been avoid if all parties had paid consistent, principled attention over the past 20 years to energy policy.

It is worth clarifying the meanings of certain terms, and their relation to climate policies, new technologies, and the progress of market reform and regulation within Australia. This glossary is not exhaustive but is a good starting point.

Baseload Power

Baseload power is a term that refers to generation resources which are generally available throughout the year and produce consistent output levels. Because they are relatively inexpensive to run, baseload resources make economic sense. Baseload plants are primarily economic and can be adapt to meet the ever-changing system demand.

Baseload plants can be either coal-fired or gas-fired combine cycle power plants. Australia’s international commitment reduce carbon emissions is limiting the economic viability traditional baseload sources.

Wholesale market the National Energy Market

It is difficult to understand the term National Energy Market because it refers primarily to a market for wholesale energy mainly on the east coast of Australia. It does not include Western Australia and the Northern Territory, but it also includes the gas system. The National Energy Market permits all types of utility-scale energy resources to be connect to the transmission system in order to supply large-scale power needs.

Industry talk of the energy market and even the NEM, can refer to the entire supply chain, which includes networks for voltage transmission and distribution, as well as retailing to the consumer. All these elements are include in the price consumers see. This can lead to a lot of confusion.

Because there competition among generators, the wholesale market is called a market. Every generator sets daily price bids, to sell power, and adjusts quantities up to 10 times per minute. This ensures that the power sold is proportional to the energy available and the performance of the generating units.

To reduce the price of electricity, the market dispatches all available and dispatchable, resources efficiently. The National Energy Market is coordinate by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

Wholesale Baseload Price

The wholesale spot price at which power can be trade in the NEM depends on the generator’s highest offer to balance demand and supply in each region. This is to encourage generator efficiency and coordinate efficient directing resources.


The term storage refers to energy that is store for future use, usually in a battery. Although electricity has always been costly to store, the price of storage will continue to drop with the advancement of battery technology. The first lithium-ion batteries were design for mobile communications and laptops, but are now being upgrade for electric vehicles and utility-scale storage.

Because of the low storage levels, electricity must be generate as soon as possible. Otherwise, stability can be at risk. As solar and wind power become more mainstream, storage technology will be more attractive. This will be easier to achieve with declining costs for various battery technologies.

Peak Demand And Demand

The amount of electricity need to meet current consumption levels is call demand. The rate of energy consumption in megawatts or millions of Watts is call power. Energy in megawatt-hours or MWh refers to total energy. Consumed over a given period of time, such as a month, year, or day.

Peak demand refers to the maximum energy consumption in one season (e.g. heating in winter and cooling in summer). This measure is vital because it determines the amount of generation. Qquipment needed to cover unexpected outages and maintain reliable supply.