Australia’s clean energy transition continues apace with new records being set for the highest share of renewable energy generation, and the lowest output for coal generators.
The new benchmarks were spotted by analyst Dylan McConnell from the Climate and Energy College, using the data from the OpenNEM resource.
They show a new record high share of renewables on Australia’s main grid for a weekday when the combined output of solar, wind and hydro reached 56.2 per cent just before 2pm on Thursday.
This is just short of the 57.1 per cent renewables share reached last Saturday, but the significance is that weekdays generally have higher demand as more industry is operating, so it’s a milestone worth recording.
Along similar lines, the output of brown coal fell to a weekday low of 2147MW, down 300MW from its previous nadir in August, 2020, although it was also above the weekend low of 1908MW, also set last weekend.
And the combined output of coal (both the really dirty brown coal generation and the dirty black coal generation) also fell to a new weekday low of 9,937MW, which McConnell notes is a full gigawatt lower than the previous nadir.
What’s the significance of all this?
They highlight the continuing and accelerating transition from highly polluting “baseload” fossil fuels to cleaner but variable renewable sources such as wind and solar.
The Australian Energy Market Operator has forecast that rooftop solar alone will be meeting up to 76 per cent of demand on Australia’s main grid within five years, which means that coal generators will have to learn to ramp production up or down, or switch off altogether.