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How the Energy Market Buckled in a Fossil-Fuel Superpower

  • Australian regulator halted spot electricity trading Wednesday
  • ‘Perfect storm’ of outages, fuel prices and weather hit market
A stockpile of coal at Eraring Power Station in Eraring, New South Wales, Australia.

A stockpile of coal at Eraring Power Station in Eraring, New South Wales, Australia.

Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

The failure of one of the world’s most sophisticated power markets this week in Australia has set alarms ringing over the challenge faced even by developed nations in managing and regulating the energy transition.

To deal with what Australia’s energy minister called a “perfect storm” of disrupting factors, the electricity market regulator took the unprecedented step on Wednesday of halting spot power trading in all regions of the National Electricity Market and instructing generators to supply enough power at regulated prices.