South Australia’s wind farms produced enough electricity to meet a record 43 per cent of the state’s power needs during July, and on occasions during the month provided all the state’s electricity needs.
The output was boosted by the addition of the 275MW Snowtown II wind farm earlier in the month. Before that, the state’s 1,200MW of wind farms had provided around 28 per cent of the state’s electricity demand in 2012/13.
Combined with the state’s 550MW of solar power, it is likely that nearly half of the state’s electricity demand came from variable renewable sources such as wind and solar – a record for a major developed economy.
Spain, for instance, this week, said that in July solar made up 8 per cent of its power supply, spread evenly between concentrated solar thermal and solar PV – while wind energy contributed 16.8% of the overall energy generation mix.
“With more than 40 per cent of the state’s power demand provided by wind energy for the entire month, it is clear that large amounts of renewable energy can be added to the system without the need for extra backup generation to be built,” Clean Energy Council acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton said in a statement.
“The South Australian example shows that wind power can generate jobs and investment, as well as large amounts of renewable electricity.
“During a short period early in the morning of 31 July, wind power met all of the state’s power needs, as well as providing more than 90 per cent for large parts of 8 July,” he said.”
As well as the new record set in South Australia, wind power provided an average of about 7 per cent of Victoria’s electricity demand, and around 6 per cent across the National Electricity Market.
Thornton said that while wind was variable, it was also predictable, allowing the grid operator to source the mix of power generation that would deliver the lowest possible prices for consumers.
“This technology has been a clear wind-win for South Australia, generating more than $5 billion of investment over the last decade, creating hundreds of jobs and providing the state with a cleaner power supply – at a low cost to consumers.
“None of this would be possible without the national Renewable Energy Target, which is currently under review. Approximately $15 billion of additional investment will be generated by the policy if the scheme if left as it is currently legislated.”
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