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Graph of the Day: Victoria nears 50% renewables over weekend

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It was a hot and windy  across Victoria on Sunday, which meant a great day for washing and drying bed sheets, and a great day for renewable energy generation in the state.

According to the chart below, supplied to RenewEconomy by Dylan McConnell from Energy Transition Hub, at 11:40am (NEM time) on October 29, wind and solar was producing ~2116 MW, which represented 37.3 per cent of generation in Victoria at the time.

Given the state was also exporting, says McConnell, renewable energy – mostly solar and wind – actually represented 44.6 per cent of local demand at the time. Not bad!

Vic_2017-10-29 copy

That is different to its average though. ITK’s David Leitch, in his weekly Know your NEM report, notes that Victoria has average 13 per cent renewables since the closure of Hazelwood seven months ago.

Many new wind and solar plants are under construction, which will start to replace some of that lost capacity. Victoria this month finally legislated its state target of 25 per cent renewables by 2020, and 40 per cent by 2030 – a target that may depend on how the National Energy Guarantee is structured, if it is put in place.  

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  • brucelee

    Victoria please just sign as many contacts as possible

    • Alastair Leith

      The targets have been set, though hopefully if they’re ahead of schedule they lift them as ACT and SA did.

  • Ren Stimpy

    3.00pm -9.00pm seems to be the market to shift solar power into with batteries.

  • Ian

    Very nice, but where’s the load graph for comparison? The big brown smudge is totally invariable. Why is that? Is it because brown coal cannot vary its production or because it won’t vary it.

    At the time 1140am , using the stats quoted, 929MW was exported out of the roughly 3800MW of brown coal. Where was the electricity exported to and how much was the wholesale price at that point?

    Victoria was very lucky to have other states take up their excess generation. With the new wind and solar coming into commission, the times and magnitudes of exports will worsen. The brown coal generators will fall like dominoes as their output is needed less and less.

    • Jake Frederics2

      .. Until one evening after a rainy week when the wind stops, the “big battery” is not charged and we have no power.

      We need a mix and coal could (and probably will be) part of that for the next 30+ years. Personally I think it would be great if we replaced coal with a couple of gen4 nuclear plants.

      • Alastair Leith

        “Until one evening after a rainy week when the wind stops, the “big battery” is not charged and we have no power”

        You can’t pay off new or existing coal with one or two weeks generation. Gas will eat it for lunch, even biofuels would.

        • Jake Frederics2

          Problem is the wind is not blowing a lot of the time. We all know to replace eg 100MW fossil power with wind or solar takes many multitudes more of installed capacity. (Eg approximately 500MW installed solar cap)

          Point is you don’t want to remove coal too soon. An existing coal plant is still cheap enough to provide base load. I am not pro fossil or renewables; just facts.

          PS: and your example above perfectly illustrates why prices go up with high renewable % grids.

          • Alastair Leith

            The wind and sun are generating enough that even at 85% RE on an island grid like the SWIS in WA you still only get a few weeks a year of very low generation.

            Of course wind and solar have a lower CF, that is news to absolutely nobody in the RE industry. Thats why we compare LCoE per MWh, not nameplate capacity price tags.

            The point is even with lower CF they drive the wholesale power price down enough of year than at it provides for cheaper wholesale energy prices and LCoE. SEN has modelled the SWIS grid to 85% RE by 2030 and it can be done for same or less cost as replacing our aging coal and gas plants with new. And that’s on today’s Australian prices, wind and solar continue to get cheaper at an astonishing learning rate. Battery storage is getting the same learning rate in recent times and distributed PHES is cheaper again ATM for magnitudes larger storage than we see worth chemical batteries today.

            In fact we could easily remove all coal by 2021 on the SWIS and have no resilience or security issues, arguably improve it because old coal plants dropping from their perch is a big security risk.

            By 2030 much of the baseload CC gas turbine could be retired or converted to OCGT to run multifuel. Gas consumption would fall to a third of todays conipitoln even including moderate demand growth as (usually over-estimated) by AEMO.

            The important point you are missing is that coal is not economic if it can’t be allowed to run as baseload. And even as baseload it’s increasingly getting its lunch eaten by cheaper renewables (and in the USA cheap fossil gas from unconventional gas extraction). Coal simply cannot deal with the duck curve problem. Even Snowy 2.0 (argueably just another another subsidy to fossil fuel generation) won’t save it. The ramping of old plants increase maintaince cost and risk of catastrophic failure and unplanned outages.

          • Ian

            It might be worth showing the existing capacity figures for the different types of generators in the NEM: .black coal 18GW, brown coal 4.6GW, gas 9GW, liquid fuel 0.8GW, hydro 8GW, wind 4GW, rooftop solar 6GW, peak demand 35GW. Large scale solar pipeline 3GW. Wind and solar can often do serious damage to coal’s market even with existing levels of these resources and there is more to come.

      • Ian

        The needing a pee in the lift scenario. That’s right we need a massive nuclear plant to prevent urinary incontinence in lifts.

  • Graeme Bond

    A bold but inaccurate claim! Or am I misreading the graph?
    It looks to me like peak power demand/usage is a bit under 6,000MW and average around 5,000MW.
    Coal and gas account for a fairly stable amount a bit under 4,000MW.
    The mathematics I learnt at school tells me that renewables average around 20% and max out around 33%. A long way short of the claimed 50%.
    Please don’t gild the lily. Stick to the facts.

    • David Osmond

      Hi Graeme, you’re not misreading the graph by much, but you should have another read of the article. It says that at 11:40am renewables averaged 37.3% of generation (approx 2.1GW out of 5.7GW) so a little more than your estimate of 33%), but it represented 44.6% of demand (approx 2.1 GW out of 4.7GW) taking into account that about 1GW of the generation was being exported. No gilding of the lily, just facts.