Rooftop solar reduces pressure on national grid: report

Ageing coal-fired plants in Victoria are least reliable in national grid.

Rooftop solar is reducing pressure on the national grid and making demand response more attractive, a new audit reveals.

And Australian states with higher levels of clean energy have lower wholesale prices.

The news is revealed in an electricity update by the Australia Institute (AI) for October and November.

According to research by AI’s Climate & Energy program, Australia’s energy system is also in transition.

Wind and rooftop solar are throwing down a challenge to the Federal Government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

National grid assisted by renewable energy advances

Key findings in the National Energy Emissions Audit show the steady march of clean energy sources in Australia.

National grid assisted by rooftop solar, an Australia Institute electricity audit reveals.

Rooftop solar is boosting national grid in South Australia according to electricity audit by the Australia Institute. Image: Pixabay

The findings include:

  • SA has seen significant changes in demand patterns over the last 10 years.
  • This means lower average demand and more ‘peakiness’.
  • These trends are driven by rooftop solar panels reducing grid demand.
  • Subsequently, demand response is more and more attractive.
  • Market share for rooftop solar has grown steadily since 2008.

States with a larger renewable energy share also enjoyed lower wholesale prices during September and October, the audit reveals.

Tasmania had the lowest prices with Queensland at the highest end.

Meanwhile, wind plus solar energy made up a record 55% of all electricity generated in SA during September.

Allowing for exports, renewable generation subsequently equalled 63% of electricity consumption.

National electricity system in transition

Australia’s energy system is transitioning. This is despite the political turmoil caused, the report claims. Other findings include:

  • Brown coal generation continues its fall beyond the closure of Hazelwood power station.
  • Gas and wind completely replaced this lost amount in September.
  • SA has experienced some of the lowest wholesale prices in the market.

According to audit author Hugh Saddler, clean energy roll-out in SA is also shortening demand peaks.

This offers “perfect conditions” for effective, economical use of demand response and solar battery technologies, he says.

Audit findings also have major implications for the controversial NEG.

Constraining renewable energy to 36% or less by 2030 therefore makes no sense, Mr Saddler claims.

He added that the constraints are subsequently “driven by ideology” and not hard facts.