It’s the season of new records, and the most notable one in a week of new milestones in Australia’s main electricity grids is a new peak for renewable energy share in the National Electricity Market: It reached 50.4 per cent at 10.55am on Monday.
It also likely the first time that the combined output of wind and solar was more than that of black and brown coal, traditionally the dirty bed-rock’s of Australia’s electricity supply.
Rooftop solar provided 24.6 per cent of supply at 10.55am, utility scale solar 10.1 per cent and wind energy 13.5 per cent. Together, they totalled 48.2 per cent, and the percentages might have been higher had not some wind and solar farms decided to switch off to duck negative pricing events.
Even so, wind and solar – possibly for the first time – beat black and brown coal which made up 47.4 per cent of the generation mix.
A 1.9 per cent contribution from hydro and a 0.2 per cent contribution from biomass took the total renewables contribution to 50.4 per cent. Gas, the so-called great “transition” fuel, contributed 1.2 per cent. (See chart below courtesy of OpenNem.org.au).
Australia is expected to set more renewable energy and minimum demand records in coming weeks – a combination of good wind and solar conditions, mild temperatures, and relatively low demand, reduced further by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has already set several records for “minimum demand” – effectively the amount of grid demand left after substracting rooftop solar” – in states such as Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria last week.
W.A., thanks to two new big wind farms, Yandin (the state’s biggest at 212MW) and Warradarge, also set a wind output share of 44 per cent on Monday, also thought to be a record. (See chart below courtesy of AEMO).