Australia’s most coal dependent states missed out on the benefits of the growth in wind and solar in the December quarter, with wholesale prices in Queensland and NSW state grids at record highs and double that of their southern neighbours.
The latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics report from the Australian Energy Market Operator highlights a widening of the “north-side” divide, despite the lowest output of coal generation since the National Electricity Market was created, and the lowest amount of gas generation since 2004.
AEMO says the price spikes in the coal dependent states were largely because of widespread outages at ageing and increasingly unreliable coal plants, and significantly higher prices demanded by black coal generators, who shifted most of their output to prices well above $100/MWh.
So much so that the average price paid in Queensland in the December quarter was $120/MWh and in NSW it was $116/MWh, while in Victoria and South Australia it was around $63/MWh.
Coal output was cut to its lowest levels on record, and was hit hard by rooftop solar in the middle of the day, but when it did generate it demanded top dollar.
More: Coal states miss out on benefits of cheap wind and solar, pay twice the price of power