Wind and solar set new combined output record in Australia’s main grid
The combined output of wind and large scale solar farms set a new record on Tuesday afternoon, as wind alone also posted a new record high for the second day in a row.
According to Geoff Eldridge, from NEMLog, the combined output of wind and solar reached a new peak of 9,133MW at 2.40pm on Tuesday, May 31, beating the previous peak of 8,560MW set in the morning of March 31 this year.
A little later on the same afternoon, wind output alone hit a record high of 6,852.5MW at 4.45pm (AEST), little more than 12 hours after setting a new peak of 6,639MW earlier on Tuesday morning (2.30am).
The new records coincide with a strong weather front that has swept across southern Australia, bringing strong winds, cold weather and – in some areas – clear skies.
Again, it had only a temporary impact on the soaring wholesale electricity prices that have swept the nation, causing grief for small retailers, customers, and even big players like Origin Energy.
The biggest beneficiary was South Australia, where wind and solar pushed prices into negative territory for most of the day as renewables provided more than 100 per cent of local demand.
However, prices quickly bounced back to above $300/MWh in South Australia when the gas generators seized control of the market again as the sun set and solar output waned.
Victoria (during the night), and NSW and Queensland (during the day thanks largely to solar), enjoyed brief respites from the soaring prices, which have averaged more than $300/MWh thanks to the soaring cost of coal and gas, supply issues which have crippled coal plants like Eraring, and coal plant failures.
Across the NEM, the combination of wind, solar and hydro stayed above 50 per cent of generation for much of the afternoon, but the market operator expects to reach peaks of 100 per cent renewables at times by 2025.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid and founder/editor of the EV-focused The Driven. Giles has been a journalist for 40 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.