Renewables outperformed coal this summer: report

heatwave, renewables

The Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program has released the latest National Energy Emissions Audit for the electricity sector covering the month of January 2019.

The audit shows that renewables now account for 20 per cent of total generation in the National Energy Market (NEM), performing best of all energy sources during a record-breaking summer of heatwaves. renewables

Key findings:

  • AEMO’s intervention in the NEM during the unprecedented heatwave of January 25 (one of the highest ever days of total energy demand on the NEM) if Victoria’s brown coal generators had not failed in the heat.
  • Wind and grid scale solar now supply a larger share of annual grid generation than hydro – a relationship which is also most unlikely to be reversed, with a doubling in large-scale wind and solar to be expected by 2021.
  • South Australia is now firmly above 50 per cent renewable electricity.
  • The rise of renewables and fall in coal generation has led to a 20 per cent reduction in emissions in the NEM.

Related article: AEMO instructs networks to start load shedding

“If we take one lesson from the record-breaking heatwaves this summer, it is that solar saved the day. Both home and large-scale solar delaying and diminishing peak electricity demand,” the author of the report Dr Hugh Saddler says.

“During the unprecedented heatwave on January 25, large-scale solar farms were running at 93 per cent of their maximum output, which is in stark contrast to Victoria’s brown coal generators of which two of the three stations were operating well below capacity.

“The era of coal is ending in Australia and around the world. Renewables are being backed as the most affordable, reliable and popular energy solution – despite the federal government’s efforts to the contrary.

“The continued growth of solar and wind energy on the NEM, which now exceeds hydro energy, will do far more to reduce emissions than the drop in the bucket that is the Government’s so-called Climate Solutions Fund.”

Related article: Morrison Govt invests $1.38b in Snowy 2.0

Read energy emissions audits from The Australia Institute here.