Wind and solar output beat brown coal in Australia for first time in September quarter | RenewEconomy

Wind and solar output beat brown coal in Australia for first time in September quarter

Combined output of wind and solar in Australia’s main grid beats brown coal output for first time in September quarter, in significant landmark for clean energy transition.

Source: Energy Synapse.

The combined output of wind and solar generation has beaten brown coal for the first time over a quarterly period in Australia’s main grid, according to new data from energy consultancy Energy Synapse.

Wind and solar have beaten brown coal over weekly and monthly periods in recent times, but not previously over a whole quarter.

“July to September 2019 was the first quarter ever where wind and solar (utility-scale plus rooftop) in the National Electricity Market generated more electricity than brown coal,” says Energy Synapse managing director Marija Petkovic.

“This is a significant tipping point in the transition to clean energy.”

According to the Energy Synapse data, utility-scale solar set a new record for electricity generation in the third quarter, despite the fact that it is not usually the best period for sunshine.

The output for the last three months from utility scale solar generation was 1,300HWh – almost three times the generation in the same time last year, which reflected the growth from newly connected solar farms in Queensland such as the Clermont, Haughton, and Rugby Run installations, and despite the fact that many facilities were turned off on occasions due to negative pricing.

Petkovic says wind power also set a new record for the highest ever electricity generation in the third quarter, in this case driven by new capacity coming on line, particularly in Victoria, which now trails the long-term leader of wind generation – South Australia – by just two per cent.

The nascent wind industry in Queensland – the Mr Emerald and the still to be completed Cooper’s Gap wind farm – is also revealed in red.

There have also been outages at units of the Loy Yang A and Yallourn, which have contributed to the dip in electricity generation from brown coal.

But Petkovic pointed out that the electricity generated from variable renewables in the July-September quarter was higher than that of brown coal in any of the last five quarters.

“Therefore, it is highly likely that wind and solar would have surpassed brown coal regardless.”



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  1. Alastair Taylor 10 months ago

    It’s going to be interesting next year – I’ve been keeping an eye on the various construction updates for Vic wind farms and here’s a summary of data published on each respective project’s website.

    I use the Victorian Government’s master list of wind farms – specifically those under construction – as a first step.

    Project name (Name plate capacity) – [Latest updates from project websites] (Date of update)

    Dundonnell (336MW) – [27 foundations poured for turbines, ~60% of transmission poles are in place] (10/10/19)
    Stockyard Hill (530MW) – [No numbers on # of turbines complete just “ongoing”, they say transmission line construction is nearing completion, ditto the new Terminal Gully terminal station] (27/9/19)
    Murra Warra (226MW) – [36 of 61 turbines erected, 20 of 61 currently generating] (18/10/19 – live stats on website)
    Moorabool (321MW) – [Project splits North and South re: updates, 11 turbines complete in north, all concrete pours for south complete, all transmission/terminal station infrastructure is complete and energised] (October 2019)
    Lal Lal Elaine and Yendon (216MW) – [Project doesn’t publish nice data like others (i.e different project component statuses), but Yendon is generating and pushing power to the grid as per PocketNEM]
    Bulgana (194MW) – [Hasn’t been an update since March 2019 where data shows 1 turbine complete with most of the transmission works complete as well] (March 2019)
    Crowlands (79MW) – [Project is generating and their update from May states installation was complete at that point] (May 2019)

  2. Seriously...? 10 months ago

    Every time a coal generator closes it means a big loss of market share for a particular utility. And the only way for that utility to get back in the market is VRE. Think about it. A utility can’t just shut down their power stations without losing market clout. If they buy VRE off other people their clout is hugely diminished. Every time a coal station closes, there’ll be a push into new VRE by the operator. That in turn will pressure other power stations. Just as SA has closed its coal stations and now is full tilt into VRE, utilities that have defended coal will change their tune rapidly when they don’t have coal stations left. It’s the tipping of the balance that counts.

  3. Lightfoot 10 months ago

    Congratulations Australia!!
    Congratulations to all you who have contributed to this milestone. From ARENA and CEFC, International investors, Banking executives, community cooperatives, Local councils, State energy ministers and public servants, engineers, electricians, Renew Economy contributors, roofers, construction workers, backpackers, safety officers, home owners, small businesses, DNSPs and retailers. You who deserve congratulations for your smart decisions. Well done.

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