Heatwave pushes wind and solar to record highs, as renewables share reaches 70 pct of NEM

Source: OpenNEM.

The output of wind and solar – so-called variable renewables – on Australia’s main grid smashed its previous record on Saturday in the middle of the heatwave that enveloped the southern states, as the total share of renewables including hydro also reached 70 per cent over the weekend.

According to data loggers GPE NEMLog, the combined output of rooftop solar, large scale solar and wind energy on the National Electricity Market (NEM) reached 21.61 gigawatts at 1pm (grid time, or AEST) on Saturday, beating the previous record of 21.25 GW set last month.

Solar PV modules mounted on the rooftops of the country’s homes and businesses accounted for half of the wind and solar output, or 11.3 GW, highlighting the increasingly prominent role they are playing in the transition. Large scale solar and wind accounted for the rest.

The record output in gigawatt terms did not translate into a record share of the grid – just 69 per cent – probably because the heatwave that swept through South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and southern NSW caused more demand than usual on a weekend as consumers turned on their air conditioning units.

Still, the total share of renewables, including hydro, did reach 70 per cent at various points in the weekend, including at 12.15pm (grid time) on Saturday, and 11.05am on Sunday. These were for five minute trading intervals.

According to the market operator, the record share of renewables for a 30-minute trading interval is 72.1 per cent, reached at 1.05pm on Tuesday, October 23 last year. AEMO says it is preparing the grid to accommodate levels of 100 per cent renewables, which it says could occur as early as next year.

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