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How wind energy matched brown coal in last week’s hot spell

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Further to the story we have written about the role that solar played in the January heatwaves in Australia’s southern states, here’s a fascinating graph showing the contribution of wind energy versus brown coal in the latest hot spell last week.

Check out the first graph below. It shows the contribution of various sources of electricity on January 28, last Tuesday, when temperatures in the state soared above 43C.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.12.38 PM

The most striking part of the graph is that all through the daylight hours, the supply of wind energy in the state was equal or greater than the contribution of brown coal.

Even at operational peak, which occurred at 5pm local time, wind was contributing 400MW, just short of the 454MW of brown coal. Earlier in the day, wind had been contributing nearly half of demand, and was the biggest single contributor for much of the morning.

In Victoria (see graph below), the story was different, with the grid again relying on its massive brown coal generators, and gas and hydro, and little in the way of wind.

Interestingly though, the AEMO had to be quick to react. The weather forecast the day before had underestimated temperatures by some 4.8C –which meant that more than 1GW of extra supply was needed (more than forecast) as the thermometer shot to 42C in the Melbourne CBD.

That extra supply appears to have come mostly from the inter-connectors – most likely Tasmanian hydro, and some local gas.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 2.12.32 PM

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  • MorinMoss

    They would have done quite nicely with some large solar PV or thermal in the mix instead of all that dirty coal.

    • Alen

      Solar thermal would suit that weather pattern quite nicely. And cost wise, the plant to be built in Chile is predicted to have a lower LCOE by the end of the decade than many gas-fired peaking plants

    • Chris Fraser

      PV actually contributed, however i suspect it was not listed as one of the input energy sources as PV is generally considered to be ‘negawatts’ – from all the PV self-consumption. Which reduces demand, and in turn reduces the profile of the red line.

  • adam

    The Citigroup report that was posted on here recently said that additional redundancy (to essentially “create baseload”) costs for variable/renewable generation came to about 3-13 dollars per megawatt.

    Anyone know of anything studies etc supporting that?

  • barrie harrop

    Sth Aust dependance on baseload dirty brown coal fired energy are numbered .