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Rooftop solar pushes WA grid demand to 8-year low

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Rooftop solar has helped push grid demand in Western Australia to its lowest levels in more than eight years, in yet another example of how the technology is hollowing out demand during the middle of the day.

It used by the night time that represented minimum demand in most Australian states, but the arrival of rooftop solar and the creation of the so-called “duck-curve” of demand means that the middle of the day is now setting new lows.

After South Australia set new record lows on several occasions in the past few weeks, W.A. recorded on Sunday its lowest level of demand since November 1, 2009.

SWIS demand

It reached a low of 1265MW in the 12pm to 1230pm trading interval on Sunday, when there was around 420MW of output from rooftop solar PV.

This won’t be the end of the story. The local grid operator expects that over the next decade, the level of rooftop solar – possibly on 90 per cent of businesses and two thirds of homes – will actually push minimum grid demand down to zero on some occasions.

Already, this year, installations are racing 49 per cent ahead of the record levels of 2016, and total installations in the main WA grid now total 785MW. By 2027, AEMO expects this to jump to around 1,800MW, significantly more than the minimum demand now. But in a high installation scenario, it says it could be 2,200MW by 2027.

Previous minimum

That is going to increase the need for storage, and for more flexible generation to respond to the growing penetration of large scale wind and solar, and the rapidly increasing uptake of rooftop solar.

W.A. has shown the sharpest percentage increase in rooftop solar over the last 12 months,

   

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  • trackdaze

    Need to shift some night time usage to middle of the day then.

    Then storage to knock the ducks head off.

    • Tom

      +1

  • Steve159

    “The local grid operator expects that over the next decade, the level of rooftop solar – possibly on 90 per cent of businesses and two thirds of homes – will actually push minimum grid demand down to zero on some occasions.”

    Add in wind, utility solar, Carnegie’s wave-energy, plus batteries and pumped hydro, to do the job, 24/7.

    • Greg Hudson

      Just a shame that Tesla does not seem to be currently capable of ramping up PowerWall2 production to satisfy the Australian demand. Hopefully this problem will be solved soon. I abhor the thought of installing a more expensive, smaller, less powerful battery from any other supplier, so I will just plan my next PV install to be PW2 ‘upgradeable’ 🙁
      Tesla/Panasonic should have more battery ‘lines’ running in the Gigafactory IMO.

  • George Darroch

    For context, 20% of WA’s production at this moment is small solar. Give it a few more years and that will be 33% or 40%.

    How long until we get the next month’s installation figures?

  • Andy Saunders

    90% of businesses have rooftop solar? Sounds too high.

    And in reality many/most rooftop installations could be expanded, so the effective figure is much lower.

    It had better be, if the growth is to continue beyond a couple of years.

    • George Darroch

      I think a lot of people will look at their 2-3kw installations and think about what savings 5-7kw could offer them.

  • Joe

    …’…push minimum grid demand down to zero on some occasions”. Isn’t this telling us that sources of dispatchable power is the priority rather than The COALition’s constant bleat about ‘baseload power’.

    • Alastair Leith

      But everybody knows that coal is dispatchable! Even the nations top journalists and MSM opinion writers 🙂

      https://theconversation.com/politics-podcast-energy-security-board-chair-kerry-schott-on-a-national-energy-plan-86462

    • IPorter

      Baseload power is a two-part statement. As well as having supply (currently coal), there is need for a baseload demand to suit the performance envelopes of the thermal generation assets. Ramping is going to toast those boilers and hot steam path zones as happened to Muja A/B (for those that don’t know the WA Government in 2010 spend $310m refurbishing the boiler tubes only to run them on a very few occasions) ironically as back-up supply to a 132Kv feeder to Albany during a line outage elsewhere. Muja A/B have since been announced closures by the new Labor government.

  • Alastair Leith

    “That is going to increase the need for storage, and for more flexible generation to respond to the growing penetration of large scale wind and solar, and the rapidly increasing uptake of rooftop solar.”

    Please note very little new wind in WA since Collgar and that was approved for grid access in 2008 and completed in 2011/12. Emperor Barnett didn’t see the need claiming WA had “quite enough wind power” and that an industrialised economy could “never become 100% RE, certainly in his lifetime” (even though WA prides ourself on ~15% RE).

  • 785 MW rooftop PV already! And WA already has plenty of fast ramping gas generation (and of course gas supply) to get rid of all coal. Storage can be part of the solution but OCGT’s are essential. The only obstacles to phasing out coal are political.
    I will submit an article to Renew Economy soon, outlining our modelling showing how and where RE penetration causes increasing ramping and wastage of steam thermal ‘base load’ generation. This will make it uneconomic and force its closure.
    Ben Rose
    Modeller, SEN WA

    • Rod

      I understand accelerated ramping puts additional stress on turbine blades and I assume boiler tubes but have never seen and statistics on it. I would be interested in that side of it too.

  • Chris Marshalk

    Wind people, its the WIND !!!!!!!

    Western Australia URGENTLY needs wind turbines to catch the fremantle doctor. The wind & intense afternoon seabreeze in WA is PHENOMENAL. Why the state wa Government doesn’t utiliser this abundant natural resources is just plain stupid

    • Ian

      No it’s not stupid, it’s deliberate or culpable. WA already has plenty of generating capacity -just it’s the fossil kind – they don’t want to let go and give up market share to new generating capacity – ie wind and large scale solar. If WA or the rest of Australia did not have the existing generating assets, then they would consider the cheapest option and wind and solar with batteries would be the goto choices. Rooftop solar guts the demand load that coal needs to be viable – the lucrative daytime peak usage – and so as more rooftop solar is installed, so the more coal falters and then becomes unviable. Fortunately voters install solar and its a brave politician who will try stop that movement. How much ducking of the demand curve is needed before coal loses viability? At the point where total roof-top solar capacity affects coal’s viability, and these plants close, then there better be wind projects developed to pick up the pieces.

      • Ian

        The thing about gas generators is not their dispatchability, reasonably easy to turn these on and off, it’s more about the gas supply. Everyone seems to look at the burners, but no one looks at the actual gas wells , lines and tanks. Investment in this infrastructure is not dispatchable. If there is not a near-constant demand for gas then the gas-supply infrastructure is not being fully utilised and gas companies get very grumpy: check this out for an insight into the domestic gas market: https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Gas/National_Planning_and_Forecasting/WA_GSOO/2016/2016-WA-Gas-Statement-of-Opportunities.pdf

        • mick

          the wa gov is being protested this weekend in bunbury? over recent decision to open up sw farmland to non fracking gas exploration (still f–ks up land and water) as the bloke said culpable