Renewable Energy Index - June 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.
The solar boom that began in the last quarter of 2016 is now having a marked impact on the east coast’s National Electricity Market, even in winter.
- In June renewable energy’s share of overall generation across the main grids of the east and west coast was 22.3%. However, this averaged figure across the month disguises the extent of renewable energy’s emerging dominance over daytime hours.
- Even though it is winter, solar capacity is now sufficiently large that it drove renewable energy’s share of the electricity market up above 30% in the middle of the day for 20 out
- of the 30 days in June. It reached a peak of 39.2% over midday on 30 June. Figure 1 shows that as solar output rises towards the middle of the day, so does renewables overall share of the market. Renewables’ share subsides as solar output falls and typically reaches its low point of around 10% to 20% late at night between around midnight and 6am, while demand for electricity is low.
- Figure 2 provides a picture of the average 24 hour profile of renewable energy’s share of generation over this June broken down by fuel source. It illustrates that renewables’ share of generation on an averaged basis ramps up rapidly after 7am and then peaks around midday close to 30% share, before falling over the afternoon as it follows the output from solar systems. Hydro plays an important role in the morning and evening picking up its output when demand for power increases while solar output is low. Then from 8pm until 6am renewables share of generation is relatively stable at around 17%.
- Figure 3 provides a broader context showing the average hourly profile of renewable energy generation as well as fossil fuels over June this year versus June of 2018 and 2017. This shows brown coal generation tends to remain steady throughout each hour but has declined almost 10% since 2017. Wind generation has increased 25% relative to June in 2017. With solar the biggest change is that large-scale solar farm output, which was negligible in 2017, has now become far more significant in 2019. Consequently solar output this June has doubled compared to what it was in 2017. Meanwhile hydro generation is down 8% this June compared to 2018. This has provided a temporary reprieve for gas, which was up 5% on generation levels in 2018, although still down 19% on 2017 levels. Lastly black coal output is down 3% compared to June last year and 6% relative to 2017.