A graph comparing energy generation in 2018 and 2019 shows the dramatic impact of solar energy generation in Australia.
The data is part of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s ‘Quarterly Energy Dynamics’ report released yesterday.
The Q1 comparison also shows rooftop solar is contributing close to 2000 MW of additional energy to the grid in 2019. The input occurs from roughly 8am to 7pm as a result of rooftop solar generation.
In addition, more than 2 GW of large-scale solar came online since the start of 2018. In South Australia and Queensland large-scale solar met around 8 per cent of demand, compared to almost none in Q1 2018.
Heatwave conditions cause load shedding in Vic and SA
The report says the first three months of 2019 also saw record electricity prices and 700 MW of new solar generation.
On January 24 and 25, AEMO activated its Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader (RERT) contracts. The move came as heatwave conditions gripped Victoria and South Australia.
A RERT is a request from AEMO to large power and industrial players to cut back their electricity use.
Solar energy generation not a cause of high prices
In Q1 2019, Victoria and New South Wales recorded their highest underlying energy price on record. Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania also recorded their seconded highest. AEMO states the reasons for the high prices as:
- Dry conditions which resulted in a reduced output from hydro generators.
- A continuation of comparatively high wholesale gas prices.
- An increase in the price of offers from black coal-fired generation, with some generators citing coal conservation and/or quality issues.
- Increased demand resulting from hot summer conditions.
Temperatures in South Australia broke new records on 24 January 2019, the report adds. Meanwhile, parts of country Victoria experienced close to record heat levels.
Demand for electricity highest since Q1 2014
Simultaneous high temperatures in South Australia and Victoria resulted in high electricity demand across both regions. The combined maximum operational demand of 12,463 MW on 24 January was the highest since Q1 2014.
A series of brown coal outages on these days also reduced generation in Victoria by up to 1,600 MW. EnergyAustralia’s Yallourn power station and AGL’s Loy Yang A station were supplying less than their usual output.
As a result, load shedding (blackouts) affected 200,000 Victorians for short periods on January 24 and 25.
If you want to be part of the solar energy generation revolution, consider getting a solar quote now.