I currently work as a contracted Energy Trader at NamPower which is the main power utility in Namibia, Southern Africa.
There isn’t really anything typical about the day of an Energy trader as trading regardless of the market (financial or energy) is unpredictable. This is probably one of the main reasons why me and my ADD brain love it so much. No two days are the same and each day brings about fresh new challenges and scenarios.
“What’s an energy trader?” is usually the first reaction I get when I’m asked what I do for a living . In short, an energy trader makes sure that your lights are on by securing energy on the market to meet your daily electricity needs like brewing that cuppa java you love so much.
So here is a typical day in my life:
I wake up and proceed to hit the snooze button.
I wake up again and drink a glass of water. On some mornings I may curse the Gods for making the night too short.
I check my phone and emails to see how trading on the market performed during the night and roughly mentally plan out the tasks I need to complete once I get to the office.
I meditate for 5-10 minutes depending on the day just to centre my mind and calm it down for the upcoming work rush. I then do a quick 5 minute morning work out routine while I continue to wrongly curse the Gods for how unfit I am. I also make my energy boosting spirulina smoothie (will post the recipe soon) and get ready for work.
I head out for work. I technically only start at 7:30am but I love going this early so I have a peaceful drive to work as there are barely any cars on the road which also means that I get to rock out to my favourite 80’s & 90’s music playlist with minimal awkward stares at the stop lights.
I arrive at work and switch on my computer and screens. The atmosphere is perfect because I’m the first to arrive and I have the whole office to myself for 1 hour. I really prefer this as I can really centre myself and have enough time to organise and jot down all my tasks for the day.
While drinking my freshly made cup of tea, I first start off the day by looking at the previous day’s energy demand trends vs what we had scheduled for that day. I do this to see whether energy demands were met or whether there were cases where I underestimated the demand for specific hours resulting in emergency energy being taken. I also check to see whether local generation that we scheduled for that day was run according to the schedule we sent out. In cases where I notice deviance, I call the control office to find out what the reason was, in certain cases it can be due to technical errors such as problems with generators.
I send out energy requests and energy wheeling requests to NamPowers relevant bilateral partners. Energy requests are exactly as they sound they are requests to certain utilities asking for power needed either for the current day if necessary as well as the following day. Energy wheeling requests are requests to transport energy from one electric grid to the next and this can be a cross border transaction. So it’s basically asking utility A to transport contracted power from utility B to utility C (NamPower) and then Utility A gets paid for that at the end of the month.
It’s time to trade for energy for the next day. I first begin by forecasting the energy demand portfolio for the country (Namibia) for the next day. To do this I look at historical energy consumption trends on similar days taking into consideration various factors that could affect these patterns like weather and type of day. For example if it’s predicted to be a very hot summers day the next day then I know that generally energy demand will be higher mid afternoon due to people using air conditioners that use up a lot of electricity.
With my energy forecast ready I now do my optimisation modelling. Optimization is just a big word to basically say that I make the best possible use of whatever resource I have at hand. In the case of energy trading, I make the best use of the available local and international power that is available to me to try to meet the energy demands I previously forecasted. So I’m basically just adding power resources I have available and subtracting it from the forecasted hourly demand for the following day. If there are any deficits then I bid for those deficits on the market. More specifically on the Southern African Power Pool market.
The office is live and bubbly. I do a walk through and have a quick chat with everyone in the office as they come in. This is also when I usually run my forecast and optimisation models by our Senior traders and adjust accordingly to their advice. In cases where we don’t have enough energy to meet the county’s demand, we try to purchase that power on the market. In awesome cases where we have an excess of energy compared to the country’s demand we sell that excess power on the same market. In both cases we make sure that relevant market prices are used when bidding.
I do my market bidding while also keeping an eye on the current energy situation making sure that enough electricity is supplied for the current day. If any issues arise we try by all means to get that power either on the market or from bilateral trading partners or from local generation where possible.
Day ahead trading markets are closed and I wait for the release of results. Once the results are released if there are still any deficits in comparison to the forecasted demand I then request these from bilateral trading partners.
This is usually the time I like to take away from my desk since I’m bound to it most of the time. I usually like to do some form of exercise like swimming sessions. On the other days I either go for a small walk just to stretch my legs or I take my lunch and go and have a chat with some of my work colleagues.
On my lunch breaks 2-3 times per week I love going here for swim practice, it’s a great stress release.
Back at my desk and checking my emails to see the responses to my energy requests and adjust my schedules for the next day accordingly. if there are any deficits for the next day especially in the early morning hours when we aren’t in the office we make sure to get that power on the market. Before we knock off from work at 16:30pm we make sure that enough energy has been secured for that evening, we also send through the energy schedule for the next day to our National Control board who are responsible for dispatching ( sending out) power as stipulated in the schedule we send.
I’m home babyyyyy!
But sometimes I may have other extra activities like violin practice, swimming or Yoga.
I check my phone and markets to make sure that things are running smoothly and whether we received any additional power we asked for the current evening. If everything is smooth I have piece of mind to enjoy the rest of my evening as I please.
After dinner, during this time I try to do something fun like reading or watching a movie but more times than I like to admit I end up mindlessly scrolling on my phone.
Bed time! Well this is supposed to be my bed time so that I get sufficient hours of sleep. However, sometimes Netflix can drag me into a sweet back to back loop of episodes until about midnight when I eventually pass out.
It’s important to note that even though all the traders are home the trading never really stops as issues can pop up in the middle of night that need to be resolved. So a trader always has one part of their brain on most of the time to make sure customers have their electricity needs met.
So far I have thoroughly enjoyed working as a Trader and being surrounded by so many knowledgeable traders and colleagues has truly helped me grow and better understand the eccentricities of energy markets and helped me grow personally as well.
As previously mentioned this is just a rough outlay of a typical day I have but each day has its differences. As I start expanding my blog more I will also be explaining various aspects of the energy industry and market that interest me and trying to explain these in fun simpler terms as information in the science sectors tends to be quite dense and slightly boring at times. If you have any questions or need clarification on anything I mentioned feel free to let me know in the comments below.
Never forget to carpe all the diems.