South Australia: World Leader in Renewables and Energy Market Transition

New research shows South Australia’s success in managing the electricity grid while simultaneously bringing a large volume of renewables into the energy mix, has positioned the state as a world leader in managing renewables transitions

The Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program has released the latest National Energy Emissions Audit, analysing the electricity sector over the previous month. The Audit is authored by Dr Hugh Saddler.

Key Findings:

  • For nine of the last eighteen months, half of all electricity supplied in South Australia has been from renewable generators, including rooftop solar.
  • Renewables generation has at times been large enough to meet all energy demand in South Australia and AEMO has acknowledged that, as it gains more experience managing the high penetration of renewables, it will be able to gradually reduce market interventions such as directing gas generators to run.
  • The South Australian electricity supply system demonstrates how technically and economically difficult—if not impossible— it would be to use generation technology that must operate continuously, such as nuclear, to complement a system dominated by variable renewable generation.

“South Australia is showing Australia and the rest of the world how best to integrate new generation on a large scale,” says Dr Hugh Saddler, author of the report.

“For nine of the last eighteen months South Australia got half of its electricity from renewables, and renewable electricity generation will only grow as AEMO eases back its market interventions.

“The interconnector between South Australia and Victoria was completed more than thirty years ago, and since then South Australia has almost always been a net importer of electricity from Victoria. Now, thanks to its strong renewables leadership and uptake, it is a net exporter of electricity to Victoria for most months of the year. 

“South Australia’s world leading position, as recognised by the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook last year, is still to be acknowledged by Australia’s policy makers.

“This rise in renewables can be seen across Australia—our Audit shows that wind supplied a record 18% of total NEM generation on 14 July, the equivalent output of over two Liddell power stations.

“Australia can quickly and affordably transition to renewables and storage, as demonstrated by South Australia, but investigations into so-called baseload energy, like nuclear, are a complete distraction by Government.”

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