Southern Australia Braces for Bushfire Risks and A Hot Summer Spell

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South Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology warned of a “hot summer spell” which reached 40 degrees. It was the first heatwave for 2021 and the State was concerned about possible bushfires brought by lightning strikes. Fire alerts have been raised in most of Southern Australia’s state which prompted fire crews to stand by for bushfire risks.

Brenton Hastie, the State’s Fire Duty Commander, called it a “Day of Concern” as extreme fire warnings is a threat to life and property. According to Commander Hastie, “We had a later start to the season but we’re now into January and the fuel is completely cured which means fires can burn to their maximum.” Command centres across the state have prepared their water-bombing aircraft to mitigate these risks.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) announced a Total Fire Ban in Wimmera, Northern Country, and Mallee last January 11, 2021. The ban resulted from the severe fire rating from these regions of concern.

Vincent Tarzia, Minister of Police and Emergency Services, warns South Australians to prepare for fire-related emergencies. He reminded everyone to be “always prepared to respond to bushfire emergencies”. Mr Tarzia also reiterated the importance of having a survival plan when disasters like these happen. “It takes five minutes to complete and could save your life”, he added.

January’s Hot Summer Spell

Temperatures in Melbourne peaked at 38 degrees, while the cities of Swan Hill, Shepparton, Horsham, and Mildura’s temperatures rose to 40 degrees – which was hotter compared to last twelve months’ average temperature.

V/Line implemented its extreme heat timetable across the State of Victoria due to the hot summer spell. Affected services line were Bendigo, Gippsland, Swan Hill, Echuca, Geelong, and Bairnsdale.

Chris Arvier, the Senior Forecaster of the Bureau of Meteorology, revealed that temperature was 10 degrees above normal. “Relief from the heat is expected later in the evening and cooler temperatures can be expected tomorrow,” Arvier said. Mild temperatures are set to return – with a forecast of 34 degrees by the 13th of January.

Weather experts revealed that the La Niña weather phenomenon contributes to the long and humid heatwaves. Felicity Gamble of the Bureau of Meteorology said that “La Niña doesn’t rule out hot weather or heatwaves, they will occur, but they will be prolonged and humid heatwaves.” She also warns that heatwaves can impact our health.

Effects of the Heatwave on Power and Energy Demand

Heatwaves and hot summer spells also have a huge impact on electric consumption due to the increase in demand. In recent years around 90,000 households experienced power loss for almost an hour in Adelaide during a summer heatwave. The power grid was overwhelmed by the demand for power, which resulted in a city-wide blackout. Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) initiated a power supply restriction to prevent damage to the electrical grid.

Joe Adamo, Executive General Manager for AEMO, explains why Australia needs a ‘united approach’ to addressing its energy needs. “The complexities and challenges of managing short-notice generation capacity reductions amid high temperatures and increasing electricity consumption are real,” Mr Adamo added.

How Businesses Can Save Money via Energy Cost-Saving Strategies

End users, such as businesses, suffer the brunt of blackouts as these will affect their employees’ productivity or production schedules. Higher utility costs are already a burden and finding the best ways to lower these can be challenging for entrepreneurs.

There are practical ways to ease the burden of paying expensive electricity bills. Building insulation and regular HVAC maintenance or installing smart sensors are examples of cost-saving strategies for businesses.

Learn more about reducing energy costs for businesses.

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