Australia sets new solar and wind energy generation record in October

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Warm and windy temperatures in October delivered a new large-scale solar and wind energy generation record of 4,271GWh, which coincided with spot and futures pricing dropping back down to historical norms.

Rystad Energy Analyst David Dixon said the new record eclipsed the previous high set in July this year by 218GWh. 

To put those figures into perspective, the combined output of large-scale solar and wind in October 2022 was 3,414GWh, meaning a year-on-year increase in output of 25 per cent. 

Best wind performers

The top-performing wind generation states were South Australia, Tasmania and West Australia. 

South Australia’s Hornsdale stage one wind farm – linked to the Tesla big battery – registered a capacity factor of 48 per cent, followed by Granville Harbour in Tasmania at 46.2 percent and Badgingarra in WA at 45.9 percent.

Queensland’s top performer was Kaban, which came in sixth overall at 43 percent capacity factor.

Victoria’s top performer was Bald Hills, which came in 11th overall at a 42 percent capacity factor.

New South Wales Cullerin Range came in 14th overall with a capacity factor of 41 percent.

Best-performing solar generation states

Queensland was the best-performing solar generation state by far, with 12 of its solar farms placing in the top 20 performers around the country. Only three states reached the top 20 spots – Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia.

Edenlow was the best performer, with a capacity factor of 40.3 percent. The next best-performing Queensland solar farms were Brigalow and Middle Mount, placing fifth and sixth, respectively.

Second place went to Moree in New South Wales at close to 40 percent capacity factor and Merredin in Western Australia at around 38 percent. 

More energy storage could have helped solar and wind contributions to the grid

Mr Dixon stated the contribution to the grid from solar over the month might have been higher with more energy storage.

He explained that the price received for utility solar assets in the NEM for October was negative in all states except NSW.

Therefore, there would have been significant economic curtailment in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. At a state level, NSW was in the top spot, generating 1,142GWh with 566GWh from utility PV and 576 GWh from wind.

Gas stood out as having its share in the energy supply eaten away by renewables in October – taking its contribution to overall supply to a 20-year low.

Generation hit a new low in the NEM of 444GWh. One of the reasons why gas performed so poorly is because Queensland and particularly South Australia are usually dependent on it, filling the gaps when solar and wind are weak. But not so in October.

South Australia’s stunning new record

South Australia has long been a trailblazer in renewable energy technology. In October, new records were set as a stunning 86.9 per cent share of local demand was met by renewables. The new monthly record takes the average share of wind and solar to 71.5 per cent in the last 12 months.

South Australia’s leading transmission company, ElectraNet, predicted that the state will reach “net” 100 per cent renewables – wind and solar – by 2026/27, a world first.

Achieving 100% renewables in the grid entails generating electricity from wind and solar sources to meet the entire annual energy demand of the state. 

However, South Australia will still engage in the import and export of power as needed via transmission links to neighbouring states, a common practice observed in grids worldwide, whether they rely on renewable or fossil energy sources.

Monthly renewable shares were also broken in other states. The ElectraNet report notes wind and solar supplied the state’s electricity demand for at least part of the day on 282 days over the 12 months to September 30, 2023. That equated to 24 per cent of all trading intervals. The share of renewables averaged 71 per cent over that period.

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