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South Australia electric grid averaged 60 percent renewables over last 12 months

February 08, 2021

Renew Economy:

South Australia has achieved a world-leading 60 per cent share of wind and solar in its local grid in the last 12 months, reaching a level of “variable” or “intermittent” generation that is unmatched in a market of its size anywhere in the world.

Data compiled by the live feed operated OpenNEM shows that wind and solar met 60.2 per cent of South Australia’s electricity demand over the 12 months to February 7. Wind energy accounted for 42.2 per cent, followed by rooftop solar (13.7 per cent) and utility scale solar (4.3 per cent).

This is despite a relatively high level of curtailment through the past year, when wind and solar farms were forced to switch off for either economic reasons (prices were too low), or because of network limits (there was simply too much wind and solar in the system).

The network limits are likely to be eased this coming year when the first of four synchronous condensers (large spinning machines that do not burn fossil fuels), come online, reducing the need for a certain amount of gas generators to be online for some essential grid services.

A proposed new link to NSW – scheduled to come online in 2024 or 2025 – will also allow for yet more wind and solar to be produced in South Australia, and exported to other states, although a recent regulatory ruling rejecting a proposed change to the way network revenues are collected may cause a delay or a rethink from investors.

You only need to go back a little more than a decade to find critics who claimed that it was impossible to accommodate more than 10 per cent wind and solar in the grid, or just two years to hear the current federal energy minister Angus Taylor claim there was already too much wind and solar in the grid. Now, the South Australia state Liberal government has a target of reaching net 100 per cent renewables (wind and solar) by 2030, and if the new transmission link goes ahead it is likely to reach that target well before then.

[Giles Parkinson]

More: South Australia achieves world-leading 60pct wind and solar share over last year

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