Records smashed again on Australia’s grid as renewables share reaches 61.7 pct

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Just before state and federal energy ministers met on Friday to discuss the future design of Australia’s electricity market, records continued to tumble as renewables set new benchmarks for total output and the biggest percentage to date.

At 1.15pm on Friday, according to OpenNEM, the share of renewables on Australia’s main grid, the National Electricity Market, hit a record 61.7 per cent, just four days after setting a new peak of 60.1 per cent.

It was helped by good wind and solar conditions, which provided a record share of 59.6 per cent (hydro made up the rest), and because of the public holiday in Victoria which would have moderated demand.

At the start of this month, the record for a share of renewables was 57.1 per cent, so it has jumped 4.5 per cent in less than  four week.

The Australian Energy Market Operator predicts that by 2025, we will see moments when the share of renewables reaches 100 per cent – and CEO Daniel Westerman says much needs to be done to prepare the grid for such moments.

According to Dylan McConnell, from the Climate and Energy College in Melbourne, the maximum output of renewables was also a record, at 15,102MW, beating the previous mark of 15,078 in January this year.

Source: OpenNEM. Please click to enlarge.

At the same time, the combined output of brown and black coal was just 9031MW, a share of just 36.9 per cent, and 20 minutes later the combined output of coal was reduced to a record low of 8986MW. An hour later (14.55) brown coal output in Victoria fell to a record low of 1726MW.

Gas was contributing just 1.2 per cent of total demand, nearly all of it in South Australia, where there are no coal generators, and which was sourcing 98.1 per cent of its demand from wind and solar at the time – and more than 100 per cent for much of the time from around 1130 to 2.30pm.

According to Geoff Eldridge, from NEMlog, more records fell on Friday, including for maximum rooftop PV output in NSW and Queensland, solar output in Victoria, and various rolling day averages for rooftop solar, renewables, and even curtailment in various states.

Records are expected to continue tumbling in the next month or so, due to the mild temperatures, the growing amounts of wind and solar, and particularly rooftop solar compared to the same time last year, and fewer restrictions on the grid.

Hear our interview with NSW state energy minister Matt Kean on The Driven podcast. 

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