Last week, wind energy was the new base load in Australia | RenewEconomy

Last week, wind energy was the new base load in Australia

Last week, wind energy provided 14.2% of demand in eastern states, and renewables overall provided more than 30%. The share of coal and gas fell sharply.


Last week was an extraordinary one for Australia’s National Electricity Market. The wind blew out all of its renewable energy records, and – for one week at least – created a new paradigm for the market.

As this graph below shows, wind energy effectively became the new provider of base load in the NEM, which serves the eastern states.

This graph, provided by Hugh Saddler of Pitt&Sherry, follows on from our other graphs of last week that showed wind energy generating two thirds of South Australia’s capacity and up to 91 per cent of the state’s demand.

wind baseload


According to Saddler, the share of wind energy over the six days from June 23 to June 29 was 14.5 per cent, peaking at 21.4 per cent a 5am on June 27.

The highest 30 minute wind output  was 2.8 GW  (more than three quarters of rated wind capacity) at 9pm eastern time on June 25, when it accounted for 15.1 per cent of total generation.

During the week, the share of coal and gas was reduced significantly. Coal, which usually averages 75 per cent or more, accounted for just 64.4 per cent over the six days (black coal 35.2 per cent, brown coal 29.2 per cent). Its low for the week was just 61.6 per cent – and the economy did not grid to a halt!

Gas accounted for just 6.9 per cent. Hydro’s share over 6 days was 14.2 per cent, meaning that for the past week, renewables accounted for 28.7 per cent – and that does not include rooftop solar PV, which is hidden behind the metre. With solar PV, the share of renewables would be more than 30 per cent for the week.


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  1. Goldie444 6 years ago

    While a one off, this is a great news story.

  2. Alan Baird 6 years ago

    This is a good (one-off) news story but I still get a jolt over that 29% brown coal figure. Appalling. One step better than peat cutting in the bogs. Modern as yesteryear.

  3. Paul McArdle 6 years ago

    Unfortunately, Giles, the new “Base-Load, Distributed Wind Power Station” has unfortunately sprung a major tube leak this week:

    Nice chart from Pitts & Sherry, by the way, with data from NEM-Review:

  4. Ronald Brakels 6 years ago

    Well it’s almost 1:00 am in South Australia on Wednesday morning and soon wind may be meeting all grid demand here, which is unusual for a weekday but given the state’s wind capacity certainly can happen.

    • Ronald Brakels 6 years ago

      So I wake up this morning and see that we didn’t meet demand from wind alone in SA in the wee hours of the morning. Oh well. It has happened before and will happen again, particularly now that Snowtown II windfarm is operational.

      • Ronald Brakels 6 years ago

        Okay, a week later from when the article was published and wind was sufficient to meet all demand at around 6:20 am Saturday morning in SA. And since with have a unit of the Norther Power Station coal plant operating at the moment, rather than just hitting zero wholesale prices when negative as the power station decided to pay a couple of cents a kilowatt-hour to use the grid as a big resistor rather than go through the trouble of shutting down.

        • Ronald Brakels 6 years ago

          And this morning they went negative again for a couple of hours this time and at a considerably higher cost for Nothern Power Station. And it’s expected to happen again tomorrow morning which is Monday and a weekday. If this keeps up maybe the coal plant should consider investing in some thermal storage.

  5. CaptD 6 years ago

    Salute to all those in SA, you are leading the World toward Solar (of all flavors).

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