Solar and wind generation break new record in Australia’s National Electricity Market

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Image: Genex Power.

A new record for variable renewable energy was set in parts of Australia last week, with solar and wind contributing to 46.5% of the total energy used for 30 minutes on 20 August in the country's National Electricity Market (NEM).

Output from renewables reached 11.7GW across the NEM, which interconnects Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. The previous record of 11.3GW was set in November 2019.

Alex Wonhas, chief system design and engineering officer at the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), said the milestone reflects the rapid generation transformation underway across the NEM.

“In the last six months, we’ve commissioned five new wind and solar farms with a generation capacity of 580MW that are feeding into the NEM, and another seven committed projects working towards construction of a further 1,785MW,” he said.

The new record follows AEMO’s recently 2020 Integrated System Plan, which forecasted that more than 26GW of new variable renewable energy is needed to replace the 63% of NEM’s coal-fired generation that is set to retire by 2040.

According to the plan, the least-cost transition of the NEM will be a diverse portfolio consisting of distributed energy resources and variable renewable energy, supported by multiple dispatchable resources. 

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