Gas power generation across five-minute intervals?

Gas power generation data are aggregated in this data-file, covering ten of the largest CCGTs and gas peaker plants in Australia, across five-minute intervals, in May-2024 and in May-2014. This makes for a fascinating case study into how gas turbines are used to stabilize power grids, backstop renewables, and how this has changed over time.


AEMO is Australia’s Energy Market Operator. It maintains a fantastic data portal, with multiple TB of available data, including the generation of every facility in the power grid, at five-minute intervals.

The biggest challenge for understanding gas power generation is the amount of data. A single month contains 9,000 x 5-minute intervals.

Hence we have selected ten of the largest gas generation facilities, and studied their output in both May-2014 and May-2024 as case studies. And even this limited exercise ended up yielding a 24MB data-file!

In May-2024 the average gas turbine ran at 26% utilization, which is lower than the base case in our gas generation economic model.

However the average turbine also ran 90% of its nameplate capacity across 10% of the hours, and peaked at 96% of its nameplate capacity when the regional grid was running short (chart below).

Maximum and average utilization rates for different Australian gas plants in May 2024. The average utilizations are very low but each plant reached over 90% utilization at least once during the month.

The daily pattern of gas generation in the Australian power grid shows a sharp drop in the middle of the day, to accommodate solar, while these plants then ramp sharply in the evening, in extremis ramping up to 90% of their total aggregate capacity. Can this really be replicated by batteries?

Daily average profile of the ten largest gas generation plants in Australia in May 2024. There is a definite trough during the day when solar is supplying power.

Gas power generation also varies widely, from baseload plants running at 90% utilization through to peaker plants that fire for just a few hours per month and thus run at just 1% utilization.

As an example of a baseload generator, the chart below shows the output from the 440MW Tallawarra-1 CCGT in May-2014, running at 90% utilization, at >50% efficiency, with output typically dipping from 1-5am, when daily demand troughs.

Generation profile of the Tallawarra-1 CCGT, a baseload gas generator, in May 2014. It ran at 90% utilization, at >50% efficiency, with output typically dipping from 1-5am, when daily demand troughed.

As an example of a peakload generator, the chart below shows the output from the 160MW Townsville CCGT, at Yabulu, in May-2024, firing up for 5-hours most days, from 4-9pm, sometimes longer. The total utilization rate for the month is 16%, but when the plant does run, then it is running above 90% of its nameplate capacity 93% of the time.

Generation profile of the Townsville CCGT at Yabulu, a gas peaker plant in May 2024. The total utilization rate for the month is 16%, but when the plant does run, then it is running above 90% of its nameplate capacity 93% of the time.

The data-file illustrates gas power generation, across minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour volatility intervals, for ten facilities, in May-2014 and May-2024. Grids are relying increasingly on gas backups.

We are happy to help TSE clients set themselves up to pull data from the AEMO database, in order to run their own analyses. Please contact us if we can help you on this front.

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