The National Energy Market, Australia’s main grid, broke the 50% renewables benchmark on November 6 2019. This is the first time that 50% of the nation’s net demand has been met by renewables.
At 11.50 AEST, the combined output of rooftop solar, large-scale solar and large-scale wind comprised 50.2% of the almost 25GW being produced on the main grid. The main grid includes QLD, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, and SA, but excludes WA and NT.
Breaking down the 50.2% further, 23.7% came from rooftop solar, 15.7% from wind, 8.8% from large-scale solar and 1.9% from hydro.
Renewables would have had an even larger share if four out of the five Victoria solar farms hadn’t been constrained to 50% of their output and if Tailem Bend solar farm in SA wasn’t shut due to low prices.
Targets being met?
This 50% breakthrough meets the 2030 renewables target touted by Labor – the target dismissed as “reckless” by the Coalition. However, Labor wanted the 50% to be an annual average, which would mean more than double the amount of renewables in the grid at present. The current annual average for Australia is just over 20%.
It could be that this extra capacity is on the way, though. Rooftop solar is springing up at record rates, with more than 207MW installed during October alone. Each year sees almost 2GW coming online and analysts believe that state government auctions, federal policies and greater infrastructure holds at least another 100GW in waiting.
State by state
Victoria and QLD already have their 2030 renewables targets and Tasmania is already at 100% thanks to wind and hydro.
SA is already over 50%, from wind and solar and aims to get to net 100% by 2030 and even further in the following years.
NSW has the lowest proportion of renewables and QLD is at 13%. NSW hasn’t got a 2030 target but aims to have zero net carbon by 2050. ACT (part of the NSW grid) has already reached its 2020 target by getting its annual electricity consumption equivalent from its contracted wind and solar farms.
Could Australia go total by 2030?
There are some experts who believe that the nation could go way further than the 50% annual average by 2030, with some thinking that 100% and even more is possible by the early 2030s, making Australia an “energy superpower”.