Renewables push electricity prices down to historical levels

Solar panels and wind turbines against mountains (renewables prices)
Image: Shutterstock

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)’s latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics report reveals wholesale electricity prices averaged $63/MWh in the September quarter—down 41% from the June quarter ($108/MWh) and 71% ($216/MWh) from Q3 2022.

South Australia recorded the highest average quarterly price at $92/MWh, followed by New South Wales ($81/MWh), Queensland ($65/MWh), Victoria ($49/MWh) and Tasmania ($29/MWh).

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Total electricity supply by fuel type saw renewables (wind, grid-scale and rooftop solar, hydro and other sources) contribute 38.9% of total supply, up 4.6%, while black coal’s share fell 3.4%, primarily due to the Liddell Power station closure, and gas fell 2.3%.

In the September quarter, maximum rooftop solar output reached a record 11.9GW, a 3% increased on the previous record, while maximums for grid-scale solar (5,949MW) and wind (8,040MW) output increased 7% and 10%, respectively.

Brown coal’s market share increased 1%, mainly due to fewer unplanned outages.

AEMO executive general manager reform delivery Violette Mouchaileh said the growing influence of renewables in the NEM was apparent in the warmer September quarter as prices returned to historical levels.

“Record renewable generation output helped push down average wholesale electricity prices by more than two-thirds, double the occurrence of zero or negative wholesale prices (19%) and reduce total emissions by 11% compared to the previous September quarter,”  Mouchaileh said.

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“Renewables also supplied a record 70% of total energy used over a half-hour period, with rooftop solar contributing 39%, again highlighting the likely benefit from coordinating rooftop solar and home batteries.

“Potential renewable output hit a record 98.6%, which combines dispatched generation and available wind and solar farms that were bidding above the spot price and therefore not dispatched into the wholesale market,” she said.

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