Last month in South Australia, the state’s wind farms accounted for 49 per cent of all electricity demand, a useful contribution given the closure of the last coal fired generator.
But in NSW the wind also blew at record levels, and the seven large scale wind farms delivered a record output, with a combined “capacity factor” of 56 per cent, more than two of the biggest coal generators in the state.
Indeed, the Woodlawn wind farm (pictured above) produced an astounding capacity factor of 62 per cent. Only two of the big five coal generators, the Mt Piper and Bayswater coal generators, produced at a higher capacity factor (67 and 66 per cent respectively).
The data, compiled by Hugh Saddler from Pitt & Sherry highlight the changing nature of the energy system.
The emergence of rooftop solar and energy efficiency has capped the amount of electricity used, leaving a huge amount of over capacity in “base load” power, to the point where many coal generators, such as Vales Point (44 per cent) and Liddell (52 per cent), are operating at half their capacity – even if the overall share of coal power has not fallen.
The 48MW Woodlawn wind farm, located just outside of Canberra, is owned by Infigen Energy.
The top 12 wind farms in Australia, by capacity factor, in the month of May were:
Woodlawn (NSW, 48MW) 62%
Boco Rock (NSW) 59%
Cullerin Range (NSW) 58%
Gunning (NSW) 58%
Taralga (NSW) 57%
Hallet 1 + 2 (S.A.) 57%
Bald Hills (Vic) 56%
Mortons Lane (Vic) 55%
Mt Mercer (Vic) 54%
Woolnorth (Tas) 53%
North Brown Hill (S.A.) 52%
Snowtown South (S.A.) 52%