The recent heat waves in the southern states and the response of the electricity grids to surging demand, and the role played by renewables such as solar and wind, has been given increasing attention.
Yesterday, we checked back on the APVI’s excellent solar map and this graph caught our eye. It is the percentage of demand in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia that was accounted for by rooftop solar PV.
It is not that the levels of more than 10 per cent should be exceptional – in South Australia, the contribution of solar PV hit over 15 per cent on several days last week – it’s just that it occurred in those three states at the same time, and lasted for most of the daylight hours – certainly between 10am and 4pm. (The graphs stagger because of the different time zones)
Intrigued by the contribution of rooftop solar PV in WA, particularly in light of our story last week about the fragile nature of the fossil fuel-grid, we checked back on the WA market operator’s site to see what was happening on the same day. Interestingly, wind was also performing well during the day time. The Colgar wind farm, which operates at a fantastic capacity factor of near 50 per cent (much of it during the day), was contributing 8 per cent of WA’s demand. Add in the other wind farms in the state, biomass and the unmetered solar PV, and the total gets to around 25 per cent. Th other thing to note is the price – for much of the time when demand was rising, prices actually fell – most likely due to the impact of rooftop solar and other renewables.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.