The combination of rooftop and large scale solar met all of South Australia’s demand, and more, during multiple trading intervals on Saturday, highlighting once again the rapid progress of renewables in Australia’s main grid.
South Australia is already a world-leader with an average of more than 62 per cent wind and solar in the past year, and it regularly reaches 100 per cent renewables, usually with the help of its 2GW of installed wind farm capacity.
Last October, for the first time anywhere in the world for a gigawatt-scale grid, solar output accounted for more than 100 per cent of state demand, with the surplus, including some gas and wind generation, exported to Victoria.
On Saturday, solar reached that landmark again, reaching what is likely to be a record peak of 106.1 per cent of state demand at 11.10am, and meeting at least 100 per cent of state demand for nearly an our.
Later in the day, at 1.40pm (grid time, which is the same as the eastern states), rooftop solar alone reached a record 88.7 per cent of demand, with a total output of 1134MW.
Interestingly, by this time, the state’s big solar farms at Bungala (pictured above) and Tailem Bend had dialled down their output, mostly likely due to the negative prices. They had been operating at pretty close to full capacity earlier in the day when the combined solar output set that new 106.1 per cent benchmark.
The 88.7 per cent solar share is almost certainly a record, and the Australian Energy Market Operator has said it is quite possible that this spring (when temperatures are still mild and air conditioning is not or sparingly used), rooftop solar will reach 100 per cent of state demand, another world-leading benchmark.
AEMO predicted on Friday that the sunny conditions could lead to yet another low for minimum demand. It set a new record low of 236MW last week. We shall have to wait and see if this occurred, and what other records will be broken over the long weekend.