Renewables contribute record 68.7% power to Australia’s grid

Wind farm at sunset with transmission towers in the background (aemo report)
Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Renewable energy generation broke a new record on Friday, October 28, momentarily providing more than two-thirds of the power in the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) said the milestone moment was set at 12.30pm, with a contribution of 68.7%—18,882MW—from renewable generation.

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The Quarterly Energy Dynamics (QED) report for Q3 2022 shows emissions in the NEM dropped to the lowest Q3 level on record, as grid-scale solar and wind generation reached a new quarterly average record at 4,465MW, up 7% from the previous record in Q1 2022.

AEMO executive general manager reform delivery Violette Mouchaileh said, “Easing COVID restrictions and La Niña conditions contributed to a 2.6% growth in quarterly average operational demand relative to Q3 2021—the first year-on-year Q3 operational demand increase since 2015.”

“While wind speeds and solar irradiation were lower in Q3, the increased demand was partially offset by approximately 770MW of increased output from existing and new renewable generation, along with network investments in system strength decreasing curtailments.

“Average operational demand in Western Australia’s Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) also increased by 2% compared to Q3 2021, with 30% of all energy demand met by renewable generation, another Q3 record,” she said.

Mild and sunny conditions in September helped set new minimum operational demand records in both the NEM (12,583MW on September 25) and the WEM (742MW on September 11), a trend which continued in multiple regions through October.  

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NEM wholesale electricity spot prices remained at near record levels through Q3 at an average $216/MWh—over three times higher than Q3 2021, but slightly down from the $264/MWh average in Q2 2022.

“Drivers that set the prices in Q2 continued in the September quarter, including high international energy commodity prices, increased demand and price volatility with 24% of dispatch intervals priced over $300/MWh in Q3,” Mouchaileh said.

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