Australia’s main grid - otherwise known as the National Electricity Market - has for the first time in history been powered by more than 50% renewable sources, according to a new report from RenewEconomy.
The report, which can be accessed here says that in one trading period on Wednesday, half of net electricity demand on Australia’s main grid was met by renewable sources of energy.
“The milestone was reached at 1150 AEST, when the combined output of rooftop solar, large-scale wind, and large-scale solar reached 50.2 per cent of the near 25GW being produced on the main grid, which includes Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, but not Western Australia or the Northern Territory,” writes Giles Parkinson.
Rooftop solar is reported to have provided nearly half of the renewables output, or 23.7 per cent, with wind power (15.7 per cent), large-scale solar (8.8 per cent) and hydro (1.9%) rounding out the list.
It is also being reported that the renewable’s share of power would have been far greater, if four of the five solar farms in Victoria weren’t being constrained to 50%, along with the Broken Hill and Tailem Bend solar farms being switched completely off due to low prices.
“It’s a fantastic achievement to have more than half of the National Electricity Market powered by renewable energy, and it’s worth celebrating.”
Angus Gemmell, head of Solar Choice said that “it’s a magnificent and pivotal milestone.”
“At the beginning of the decade South Australia’s power system ran on more than 50 per cent wind and solar for the first time, but today it happens all the time,” Clean Energy Council CEO, Kane Thornton said.
“It’s a fantastic achievement to have more than half of the National Electricity Market powered by renewable energy, and it’s worth celebrating. A decade from now it will be completely normal as more renewable energy and storage projects are built to replace retiring coal-fired power stations.”
“The federal energy minister Angus Taylor says there is already too much wind and solar in the system.” Giles Parkinson
“Renewables and storage can do everything our old coal plants can do, just cheaper, cleaner and more reliably,” he added.
The contribution of renewables into the main energy grid is expected to climb, considering that rooftop solar is being installed at record levels of around 207MW in October, 2019, and nearly 2GW per year. According to analysts, there is 100GW of solar capacity in the project pipeline awaiting federal government policy, state government auctions and more network capacity.
Tasmania is already at 100 per cent renewable power, while the State Labor governments of Victoria and Queensland are sitting on around 50 per cent renewable energy targets by 2030. South Australia has already hit this target, and hopes to have 100% by 2030, and even sell excess power for profit.
As it stands, NSW has the lowest share of renewable power at around 13% of the grid’s supply.
Professor Ross Garnaut says that a 100 per cent renewables share is possible by 2030, hoping Australia can become a renewable ‘energy superpower.’ CEO of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, Darren Miller agrees, stating the potential for 700 per cent renewables in the future with the advent a new segment of the economy that will drive green hydrogen and green metals exporting.
According to Giles Parkinson, “the federal energy minister Angus Taylor says there is already too much wind and solar in the system.”