Australian renewables nudge milestone 25% share in last 12 months | RenewEconomy

Australian renewables nudge milestone 25% share in last 12 months

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Latest report shows renewables, including rooftop solar, fell just a fraction short of a 25% share of Australia’s main grid in past 12 months.

Broken Hill solar farm. Photo credit: PARF.
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Some positive news this week from the latest National Energy Emissions Audit by The Australia Institute, with renewable energy just a fraction of a percentage point away from generating one-quarter of the electricity supplying Australia’s main grid.

The March 2020 NEEA, published this week, shows that in February 2020 grid scale renewables – wind, solar, hydro and some biomass – supplied 19.7% of all generation to the National Electricity Market states, or 24.3% of all generation if rooftop solar is included.

The report shows that wind and solar generation continue to grow, while coal and, to a somewhat lesser extent, gas generation decrease (figures 2 and 3). In figure 3 in particular, you can see that the impact on the grid by big solar is really only just getting started.

Consistent with last month’s figures, new wind and solar capacity had displaced, in varying proportions, black coal, brown coal and gas generation, resulting in a steady fall in emissions.

That report showed that in the year to the end of December 2019, the total share of electricity supplied by coal power stations was 67 per cent, down from 74 per cent three years previously, and 82% 10 years previously, while the share of gas remained stable over the past decade.

The report’s author, Hugh Saddler, reiterated in the latest report that the steady growth of “new” wind and solar generation – as illustrated in figure 4 above and the charts below – has kept electricity consumption, emissions, and emissions intensity of generation “essentially unchanged” again for the month.

This means that consumption of grid-supplied electricity is either flat or decreasing very slowly, but steadily increasing when electricity supplied by rooftop solar is included. You can see that most markedly in Queensland in the chart below.

It will be interesting to see the April 2020 report, and what sort of impact the virtual complete shutdown of Australia has had on the nation’s electricity demand profile and on emissions.

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