Apr 12, 2021
Australia’s main grid reached a record level of renewables in its electricity supply, and a record level of wind and solar penetration on Sunday.
The peak renewables share appears to have reached 55.9 per cent at 11.05am on Sunday morning, with wind and solar alone providing 53.4 per cent, according to the OpenNem data page. However, other sources, such as NEMLog, claimed a higher percentage was reached, 56.1 per cent, at 1.15pm.
Either way, the share of renewables was significant, and certainly a record level in terms of market share on a day with strong wind conditions, generally sunny conditions and low weekend demand.
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The share of renewables also held at more than 50 per cent for about six hours of the day – from 9am to 3pm – also likely a record. It also was above 50 per cent for several hours on Saturday. The share of gas fell to just 1.3 per cent, and coal to around 42 per cent.
The average share of renewables over the last 12 months has been a little over 28 per cent, with coal at 65 per cent over the last 12 months, but more than 4,000MW of large scale wind and solar has been added in 2020, and a similar amount is expected to be commissioned in the current calendar year, along with nearly 4GW of rooftop solar.
The Sunday record features another strong contribution from rooftop solar, which contributed 24.5 per cent of demand at that 11.05 peak, or 5,693MW. It was followed by wind (18 per cent), and large scale solar (10.9 per cent).
Hydro was contributing just 2.5 per cent, while pumped hydro stations and big battery storage installations were soaking up some of the generation, taking advantage of the negative prices in all state grids, apart from Tasmania.
The share of renewables might have been higher were it not for many wind and solar farms choosing to switching off to dodge the negative prices and the obligation to “pay” to generate. NEMLog suggested the share of voluntary curtailment might have been 10 per cent.
Update: The Australian Energy Market Operator later confirmed that the main grid had indeed reached a new record for renewable energy share, although its data put it at 55.9 per cent at 1.10pm.
It said this eclipsed the 55.1 per cent record set a day earlier, on Saturday. New records had been established on four occasions in November and October last year.