Graph of the Day: Has Australia hit peak wind? | RenewEconomy

Graph of the Day: Has Australia hit peak wind?

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Wind energy now supplies one third of the electricity needs of South Australia, and about six per cent of the nation’s electricity demand.

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Wind energy now supplies one third of the electricity needs of South Australia, and about six per cent of the nation’s electricity demand.

That follows a big increase in wind energy generation over the last decade, which has seen its capacity jump from very little to more than 3,500MW. On October 6, wind energy in Australia set a new record output of 2,800MW in one half hour trading interval. On the same day, wind energy exceeded demand in South Australia for most of the day, the second day in a few weeks that the state went 100 per cent renewables for a large part of the working day.

But the wind industry is now asking itself, given the Coalition government’s attempts to slow down or at least stop the deployment of wind energy, is this as good as it gets? Has Australia reached peak wind?

The graph below, from the latest monthly data crunching by Hugh Saddler at Pitt & Sherry, illustrates the problem.

As Saddler notes, wind farm construction has slowed to a stop. The 275MW Snowtown wind farm was officially opened this week, although it was connected to the grid a few months earlier.

As Saddler notes: “The effect of the slowdown in new windfarm construction is very clear to see in (the graph), particularly for Victoria …. With only one new windfarm, Boco Rock, south of Cooma in NSW, currently nearing completion, it may be some time before a new output record is set.”

wind cedex


The Clean Energy Council estimates that around 7,000MW of wind energy projects are at risk from the government’s attempts to slow down the deployment of renewables, rather than speed it up as recommended by this week’s IPCC report.

Those 7,000MW would account for nearly all the estimated 8,000MW needed to acquit the current RET of 41,000GWh by 2020. But if the target is cut to a “real” 20 per cent, or around 26,000GWh, then only 3,000MW would be built, and some of this would be met by large scale solar plant.

There have been no new financial commitments to wind projects in Australia since early 2013, when it became clear to those in the industry that the Coalition would win power and implement a review of the RET. The only bright spot on the development horizon is the ACT government’s commitment to 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020. It expects to announce the results of an auction of 200MW of wind capacity before the end of the year.



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  1. john 5 years ago

    Some of these just may go ahead when it becomes obvious that the cost of replacing an existing coal plant is not competitive with wind

  2. patb2009 5 years ago

    this is a pause driven by the new government. As Wind/Solar continue dropping in cost, the fossil plants will continue to find them under pressure.

    • Peter Thomson 5 years ago

      Best way to unpause it is to vote this Government out at the earliest opportunity.

      Meanwhile we apply pressure on the Government from all fronts: citizens groups, business groups, street demonstrations, petitions, lobbying your MP’s, etc. Make it as clear as possible to them that they are out of line with the mood of the country and the rest of the global community.

      • Peter Campbell 5 years ago

        And make sure that future governments know and remember the reason Abbott only got one term was his antipathy to environmental matters.

  3. coomadoug 5 years ago

    Lets use the internet in innovative ways to empower the end user to influence the energy market. Lets provide a platform to establish a national team of concerned voters who can co ordinate their energy use to influence the integration of renewable energy.
    There must be so many ideas hanging in the smog just needing a team response.
    Lets have a think tank on the concept here.
    What are your thoughts?

    • Jon 5 years ago

      Ok I’ll start….Buy Green Energy!
      Spend the extra 5c/kWh on green power and we won’t need the RET. Problem solved!

      • Peter Campbell 5 years ago

        Check out C3 Community Climate Chest. Less than 5c/KWh and tax deductible.
        I have been buying greenpower for years but only a minority will do it voluntarily. To get the rest we need the RET expanded over time with carbon pricing, shutting down coal power stations etc.

        • Sean 5 years ago

          save your money.
          Greenpower only subsidises the green energy that they would be forced to buy due to the RET anyway. If you want to make a difference, either buy REC’s, or a share in a local source of green energy.

          • Peter Campbell 5 years ago

            No, that is not correct. The whole point of greenpower is that it must be additional to the RET. What you are doing when buying accredited GreenPower IS buying RECs. The retailer who sells you GreenPower must purchase and surrender an additional number of RECs that must to match the GreenPower they have sold, over and above their obligations under the RET.
            Doing it via C3 is cheaper and tax-deductible because it is not for profit. C3 purchase and surrender RECs on your behalf equal to the amount of electricity you tell them you bought from a retailer (or some amount more or less if you prefer).

  4. Ian 5 years ago

    Let the government limit renewable energy investments, get them to sell coal generation assets quickly to foreign investors and then lobby government to fully promote renewable energy generation. Why should the australian people be lumbered with stranded assets when these can be off loaded to our trading partners around the pacific. When you have a potential buyer for your old holden ute, you don’t squeal about the clouds of oil coming out the exhaust or oil dripping on your garage floor until you have his money in your hot little hand.

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