The Australian energy minister has called on the people of New South Wales, a state that includes Sydney, the country’s largest city, to turn off the lights to avoid an energy crisis, the BBC reports.
Chris Bowen says people shouldn’t use electricity for two hours every night if they can. However, he said he was “confident” that a power outage could be avoided.
The minister’s call comes after Australia’s main electricity market was suspended due to rising prices.
Bowen urged people living in New South Wales to save as much energy as possible.
“If you can do that, don’t use electrical appliances between 6 and 8 in the evening,” he told a news conference.
Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of coal and liquefied natural gas, but has been facing an energy crisis since last month. Three-quarters of the country’s electricity is still generated from coal, and Australia has been accused of not taking enough steps to reduce its emissions by investing in renewable energy sources.
In recent weeks, Australia has faced the impact of disruptions in coal supply, disruptions to the operations of several coal-fired power plants and rising global energy prices.
Floods earlier this year hit some coal mines in New South Wales and Queensland, while technical problems led to a drop in production at two other mines supplying the largest coal-fired power plant in New South Wales.
About a quarter of Australia’s coal-fired electricity generation capacity is currently decommissioned due to these problems.
Some electricity producers have also seen rising costs as global coal and gas prices have risen as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine.
On the other hand, energy demand has risen amid an unusual cold snap at this time of year and following the reopening of the Australian economy after easing anti-COVID restrictions.
All this has contributed to rising electricity prices on the wholesale market to over A $ 300 ($ 210) per megawatt hour, the cap set by market regulator Aemo.
But the price cap was lower than the cost of production for several producers, who decided not to sell under these conditions.
On Wednesday, Aemo made an unprecedented decision to suspend the energy exchange and announced that it would set prices directly, and producers would be compensated by the government. He also called on consumers in New South Wales to “temporarily reduce energy consumption”.
Aemo has not announced when the energy exchange will reopen, but said it is monitoring the situation.
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