Solar pushes average midday prices in Queensland to near zero | RenewEconomy

Solar pushes average midday prices in Queensland to near zero

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Solar pushed the average midday price of electricity in Queensland close to zero in the September quarter.

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The growth of large scale and rooftop solar in Queensland, and the absence of storage in the market, pushed the average midday price of electricity in Queensland close to zero in the September quarter.

The Australian Energy market Operator, in its latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics report, says the price fall in Queensland over the past year has been dramatic, with the midday price falling from an average of more than $56.70MWh in the same period in 2018 to just $4.90/MWh in the latest three month period.

The fall in midday prices is part of a radical reshaping of both the demand and the pricing curve in Queensland, which also experienced a big increase in negative pricing events (also caused by significant transmission constraints that reduced exports to NSW).

South Australia – which has the highest share of wind and solar at more than 50 per cent of demand – also experienced a significant amount of negative pricing periods and record lows in “operational demand during the last quarter, as did Western Australia.

The situation in Queensland was likely exacerbated by the absence of grid scale battery storage in the state, and the decision by the coal-dominated CS Energy to leave the state’s biggest “battery”, the 570MW Wivenhoe pumped hydro project idle for much of the time.

AEMO noted that Wivenhoe had only been switched on for 18 per cent of the “negative pricing” prices, when it could have been paid to pump water uphill, ready for generation when the prices inevitably spiked higher to meet peak demand in the evenings.

But it didn’t, with AEMO citing a mix of environment, plant issues and “commercial considerations” for its inactivity.

That is likely to change now that Wivenhoe is owned and operated by the newly formed CleanCo, which has already made the facility more active in its first two weeks of management.

It still made for some interesting responses from the state’s coal generators. Many find it difficult to change their output dramatically, but this is what the Gladstone generator did in the last three months. Show people this graph when they claim solar does not displace coal.

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5 Comments
  1. Chris Drongers 1 month ago

    One sees a major opportunity for electric cars here. Charge at work during the day at minimum cost and without the storage losses (80-90% cycle efficiency for storing daytime power into the evening). Kill two birds and give your employees and customers a PV covered parking lot.

  2. John Saint-Smith 1 month ago

    The solar revolution began more than a decade ago. Despite early pessimism, the uptake of domestic rooftop solar has continued to increase, and accumulate a large excess of capacity in the middle of the day. Recently that has been further increased by large scale solar, yet the government owned grid operators in Queensland have routinely failed to do anything with the extra power apart from selling it to NSW.
    It must be possible to do something to save this energy from going to waste/zero value? That will kill the solar industry and mess up the coal generators, as no one can make a profit at $0. As usual, the Queensland Government seems to be dithering, not doing. Is it a case of them not knowing what levers to pull, or is someone else pulling their levers?

  3. Ken Dyer 1 month ago

    I love ducks.

  4. Jon 1 month ago

    It does open up the opportunity for commercial DRS and Storage.

    And I can’t post without mentioning ripple control again, yes I’m a bit fixated on it as to me it’s jumping up and down saying “pick me, pick me”, like Wivenhoe was under previous management.

    The 30% turndown on Gladstone and the rate that it can ramp is much more than I thought coal plants could do.

  5. EdBCN 1 month ago

    This is a bookend with the story at the top of the page about how the Hornsdale battery is being enlarged. All this cheap solar is making batteries very profitable.

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