November 29, 2021 Read More →

Natural gas use falls to record low levels in South Australia grid

Renew Economy:

The South Australian grid has witnessed yet another step change in its world-leading transition to 100 per cent renewables, with the market operator dialling the output of the state’s gas generators down to unprecedented low levels.

South Australia often runs at more than 100 per cent renewables, with the excess supply sent to Victoria and, in smaller amounts, stored in one of the state’s three big batteries or the thousands of household batteries.

Some gas generation – even when there is enough wind and solar generation to meet all local demand – is usually required to provide “synchronous generation” considered essential to maintain system strength and keep the grid in a secure state. (South Australia has no coal, and no pumped hydro).

But the amount of gas needed for this task is shrinking rapidly. Until recently, a minimum of 240MW was considered essential for the task, but the installation of spinning machines known as synchronous condensers, and which do not burn fuel, has meant less gas generation is needed.

As we reported last week, the minimum gas output at times of high renewables was halved to around 120MW as the syncons came on line, and now it has fallen again – to around 80MW, meaning fossil fuels were accounting at times for less than five per cent of total generation in the state.

[Giles Parkinson]

More: Fossil gas pared back to its bare bones in South Australia’s renewables grid

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