South Australia heading to 80% wind and solar by 2021/22 | RenewEconomy

South Australia heading to 80% wind and solar by 2021/22

Scenarios by Australian Market Operator suggest wind and solar could be capable of providing 80 per cent of South Australia’s electricity demand within 5 years.



South Australia is not just likely to have already met its target of 50 per cent renewables some eight years ahead of time, it is now heading for an extraordinary penetration rate of 80 per cent wind and solar by 2021.

That, at least, is the presumption of the Australian Energy Market Operator in a series of scenarios that it prepared for its submission into the Tamblyn review on the proposed second link from Tasmania to the mainland.

AEMO considered three different scenarios to assess whether that new link to Tasmania would be a good deal, and translated those into its own estimates of how much wind and solar would be built in each state over the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years.

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South Australia was an important factor in the AEMO’s deliberations on the extra link to Tasmania, because it suggested that it would make more sense if there was an extra link to South Australia, to take advantage of that state’s growing wind and solar output.

In two of the scenarios that it contemplated – the neutral one (above) based on current policies, and the ambitious climate goal of a 45 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 (below) – South Australia’s wind and solar capacity doubled over the next five years, before coming to a halt over the following 10 years.

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Consider what that means. Its current capacity of around 1,600MW of large-scale wind energy meets just over 40 per cent of total state demand, and the 720MW of rooftop solar adds another 7 per cent. When Hornsdale 2 is completed later this year, that percentage will go beyond 50 per cent.

AEMO’s forecasts suggest the capacity of wind and solar (now that it is cost competitive with wind) will double to around 3,100MW by 2121/2022. Given that the state’s rooftop solar installation is also expected to soar, this suggests at last 80 per cent of the state’s electricity demand could be met by wind and solar.

That’s not necessarily something to worry about, if properly managed, given that the CSIRO and the Energy Networks Australia canvassed a similar scenario in their Future Grids work, which they said would not affect system reliability, although they were suggesting it would happen more than a decade later.

However, it should be noted that AEMO’s forecasts were completed before the state government unveiled its energy security target, which requires that 36 per cent of its local demand be met by local dispatchable resources, and 50 per cent by 2025 – which suggests that wind and solar will need to come with storage attached.

That looks achievable, given that the state is already holding one tender for 100MW/100MWh of battery storage, and many of the new solar proposals are coming “battery ready”. One developer, Reach Solar, says solar and storage is already cheaper than gas and will be “well below” $100/MWh – the current level of wholesale prices – within a few years.

AEMO has already canvassed the likelihood that rooftop solar, alone, could account for 100 per cent of minimum demand on some occasions within the next five to six years, a situation that is likely to be repeated in Western Australia and Tasmania. Even north Queensland is building so much large-scale solar and wind that its capacity will equate to minimum within a few years.

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The only scenario where South Australia’s large-scale wind and solar capacity did not double was in the “low demand” scenario, where much of future demand is met by “distributed energy”, primarily rooftop solar and storage, and energy efficiency.

But this scenario’s impact on wind and solar construction over the next five years is a little hard to understand, given that the “low grid demand” is unlikely to be evident to all within the next few years.

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  1. Ren Stimpy 4 years ago

    Looks like NSW are bludgers.

  2. George Darroch 4 years ago

    We have a huge decade ahead of us for development of supply. It looks like more wires and cables will be needed.

  3. MikeH 4 years ago

    It would interesting to see all the AEMO modelling redone with priority given to reducing carbon emissions.

    The 45% emissions reduction by 2030 (based on 2005 levels) scenario is at low end of the 2014 CCA recommendation (45 – 65% by 2030) and I believe that is also the target adopted by the ALP.

    But that recommendation applied to all emissions not just to the electricity sector. If transport, and industrial emissions were similarly reduced then you would expect a corresponding increase in grid demand via electrification whereas the AEMO modelling scenario for 45% assumes neutral demand.

  4. Jonathan Prendergast 4 years ago

    If you have an innovative battery/storage technology or business model, please move to Adelaide!

  5. John Leslie 4 years ago

    Hard to believe our Prime Minister just 6 months ago couldn’t go out of his way hard or fast enough to bad mouth and deny renewables. Now everybody but the federal government is doing it.

  6. Just_Chris 4 years ago

    “That’s not something to necessarily worry about if properly managed..”

    This is Australia – if I lived in SA I’d have my Diesel generator and change over switch already hard wired into the house.

    • Rod 4 years ago

      I have personally had ONE blackout in the past year due to a one in a hundred year storm knocking down 22 transmission towers. Lit a few candles, hooked my phone up to my ebike battery and spent a pleasant couple of hours with the family.
      Although I’m contemplating a separate UPS system it won’t be because I am concerned about the lights going out. It will be to get more of those export dollars for my solar.

      • Just_Chris 4 years ago

        I should be careful what I say, I’m sorry if my rather abstract humour caused offence. Clearly there are a lot worse places than Australia in terms of power quality and a blackout every 10 years is not the end of the world.

        • Rod 4 years ago

          I’m probably a bit oversensitive to this specific subject.
          Ever since our muppet in charge blamed renewables the very next day!

          • Just_Chris 4 years ago

            I think we are all a bit fed up with the game of political football being played at the moment.

  7. Ian 4 years ago

    You cannot have excessive solar or wind connected to the grid with good control systems, there is no reason to have grid instability due to excessive energy production. This simple means that at times of excess production, wind or solar or both will have to curtail production. Not ideal from an economics point of view, but hey thems the breaks. If those massive farms of solar and wind want to maximise their chance of exporting their electrical energy in a demand-constrained environment they will just have to install some time-shifting capacity, aka -batteries.

    Households, who have already lead the field in renewables uptake, know the pain of having unwanted generating capacity. They have been told to suck it up. Fortunately for the household, when it’s windy and the sun is blazing hot and every renewable generator is producing to the max, and wholesale prices drop to negatory, they are sitting pretty, happily charging their Tesla’s ( powerwalls and EV’s), knowing that the premium Tariff for imported energy is far from their minds, not really their problem. They will be able to sit on their phones, blissfully adding or removing loads like air conditioning, water heating ,refrigeration, pool management etc, any spill over to the grid will be ‘like so what, call that a FiT.” They will be able to say to the grid” here have a few electrons for free, I’ve filled my car, chilled my house, loaded my powerwall, heated my oversized bath tub and I still have excess”

  8. baseload renewables 4 years ago

    Looks like AEMO is going to have to do some revising of Queensland’s figures too, based on announcements in the past fortnight. If the Gympie and Gladstone projects get to completion, the 2026-27 emissions reduction scenario figures might arrive a lot more quickly.

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