Renewable Energy Index - February 2019
To assist the Australian community in understanding the role and contribution of renewable energy to meeting our energy needs while also providing an important source of employment and reducing pollution, Green Energy Markets produces the monthly Renewable Energy Index.
The index tracks the contribution of the renewable energy sector broken down by fuel type and state on a series of metrics that are intended to translate abstract concepts such as megawatts and tonnes of CO2 into concepts the community can understand and appreciate such as number of households powered, and number of cars’ pollution avoided
● In terms of overall energy across the whole of summer, renewable energy produced 128% more megawatt-hours of electricity than gas and 23% more than brown coal.
● As shown in figure 1, growth of wind and solar in the last 2 years has allowed it to almostentirely replace the lost summer output from brown coal since Hazelwood’s closure. In
the first summer after the loss of Hazelwood, it was mainly replaced by growth in black coal and gas output, with a small additional contribution from renewable energy.
However this summer, gas output fell below its pre-Hazelwood closure levels, and black coal output fell below last summer’s levels. Meanwhile wind and solar output was
2,821GWh higher than the summer prior to Hazelwood’s closure, almost completely making up for the drop in brown coal output of 2,908GWh compared to the pre-closure
summer of 2016-17.
● While renewable energy output is variable, it has delivered when it was needed most over the peak demand period of 11.30am to 5.30pm this summer as shown in figure 2.
While black coal output over this summer peak period was barely more than it was when Hazelwood was operating (13,870MW this Summer compared to 13,777MW in 2016-17
summer), renewable energy delivered an average of more than 2,000MW greater output in the summer period when electricity demand is at its greatest.
● What made the biggest difference has been the extra solar capacity added to both rooftops and in large solar farms. If we look at the 9am to 5pm period solar’s output
averaged across this entire time-band exceeded that of brown coal and gas for the first time. As shown in Figure 3, solar output exceeded gas over every hour in this period
except for the hour between 4pm and 5pm. It was greater than brown coal until 3pm. Given solar capacity is on track to double in the next 3 years solar output will likely grow
to exceed each of brown coal and gas’ output across this entire 9am to 5pm period by the summer of 2021-22.