Renewables outperformed coal in summer of unprecedented heatwaves
The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program has released the latest National Energy Emissions Audit for the electricity sector covering the month of January 2019.
The Audit shows that renewables now account for 20% of total generation in the National Energy Market (NEM) — a share that that is certain to continue growing — performing best of all energy sources during a record-breaking summer of heatwaves.
+ On the unprecedented heatwave day of Friday 25 January, maximum 30-minute (trading interval) demand across the NEM as a whole reached one of the highest ever levels and the highest since 2017.
The unavailability, at the crucial time, of about 1,300 MW of brown coal generation meant that it became necessary to impose some load shedding in Victoria. On the other hand, had there been no solar generation, as was the case in 2009 when the highest ever demand was recorded, that record level would have been exceeded on 25 January.
+ Total renewable generation now supplies more than 20% of total generation in the NEM, a share which is certain to keep growing.
In the year to November last, for the first time, total renewable generation, including hydro, wind and both grid scale and rooftop solar, contributed more than 20% of total NEM supply. Continued steady growth since then, means that the renewable share is most unlikely to ever fall below 20% in future.
+ Simultaneously, annual NEM emissions have now fallen to more than 20 per cent below the maximum level they reached in the year to September 2008.
While total annual generation, including rooftop solar, has fallen by less than 3 per cent since 2008, emissions have fallen by more than 20 per cent, driven by the combination of rising renewable generation and falling coal generation.
+ Wind and grid-scale solar now supply a larger share of annual grid generation than hydro.
Similarly, in the year to November last, for the first time, wind and solar supplied a larger share of grid generation than hydro. a relationship which is also most unlikely to be reversed.