Australia’s National Electricity Market sets record low demand thanks to solar

A rooftop solar system in Sydney. Image: Photon Energy.

Australia’s rooftop and grid-scale solar contributed to the majority of the total electricity supply in the National Electricity Market on 17 September, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

AEMO said the National Electricity Market set a record low demand of 11,393MW at 12:30pm on 17 September, a 4.2% decrease from the previous record set in November 2022. Rooftop solar and grid-scale solar accounted for 57% of the total electricity supply in the National Electricity Market on that day.

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AEMO explained that as consumers generate more of their electricity through devices such as rooftop solar, the demand for grid-scale generation, including coal and gas, will drop. This phenomenon will cause minimal operational demand that usually takes place on sunny and mild temperature days with high rooftop solar generation combined with lower energy use.

Australia also experienced a day with low demand in August. At 1:30pm on 27 August, AEMO reported a demand of 13,339MW thanks to mild temperatures and mostly clear skies across the National Electricity Market.

Australia is a world leader in rooftop solar; last summer, rooftop solar generation contributed more to the country’s energy consumption than any other renewable source and brown coal generation with over 8GWh of power.

PV Tech Premium reported that rooftop solar’s contribution to total electricity generation was as high as 9.3%. By combining larger-scale (5%) and medium-scale (0.4%) solar projects, solar PV accounted for 14.7% of electricity generation in Australia last year. AEMO also predicted that around 65% of homes with a total capacity of 69GW will have solar panels by 2050.

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