National Electricity Market transitioning to renewable energy: audit


The May edition of the National Energy and Emissions Audit, released by The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program, shows that the National Electricity Market (NEM) is transitioning to renewable energy despite political and policy uncertainty.

Key findings of the audit included:

  • The capacity of large-scale solar generation supplying the National Electricity Market tripled between March and early May.

  • South Australia became a net energy exporter for the first time in March, selling the state’s abundant wind-generated power into Victoria.

  • NSW coal-fired power stations have been consistently at 65% capacity despite three closures and speculation over Liddell, with imports switching from Victoria to Queensland post Hazelwood.

“Four new wind farms and eight grid-scale solar farms came online between March and early May, with a total capacity of 1,030MW,” said author and energy expert Hugh Saddler.

“The 500MW of solar generation will almost triple the grid-scale solar capacity of the NEM in just three months.

“This demonstrates that the cost advantage wind had over solar has been reduced and we can now expect new capacity to be a mix of both technologies.

“Beyond the politicking over South Australia’s energy system, the year toMarch 2018 saw the state sell more electricity to Victoria than it bought.

“This milestone should be celebrated and SA commended on its efforts to develop its excellent wind resources.

“Despite the closure of Hazelwood, NSW coal-fired power stations are still working at similar levels, about 65% of their capacity.

“NSW continues to import nearly 10% of its electricity requirements from Queensland, though imports from Victoria have fallen. However, the utilisation of NSW coal power stations has increased only marginally, from 58% before Hazelwood closed to 61% now, showing that the fight over Liddell is purely political with nothing to do with energy security," said Mr Saddler.

The May update of the National Energy Emissions Audit is available here.

Photo: Renew Power Group's recently commissioned 5.6MW Peterborough Solar Farm in South Australia.

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