Solar + Wind = 72% of South Australia’s Electricity in October, World Not Turned Upside Down

Sometimes the sun does shine and the wind does blow. That’s most of the time in South Australia, apparently. The average share of wind and solar during October was 72%. For 29 out of 31 days, 100% of the power used in South Australia (SA) was renewable. The sky didn’t fall, the grid didn’t collapse, and the apocalypse is not nigh.

South Australia has gone from being a power pariah to a hero, setting new records each month and acting as an example to the world.

Geoff Eldridge, an Energy Data Analyst at NEMLog, offers more data. “The maximum output of renewables was 129% of local demand on Sunday, October 3,” Eldridge says. As far as the max for a whole day, that was 107.3% on Sunday, April 4, 2020.

Renewables, supported by big batteries, are bringing consumers lower emissions, lower prices, and improved reliability. That’s some trifecta!

These lower prices may get even lower, as the federal government is finally starting to take a positive interest in the solar sector. It is aiming to reduce the price of electricity even further – by about 70%. It’s said that this will be needed to make green hydrogen a financial success. 

Economies of scale will be the key. Remember Canon-Brookes and Twiggy Forest’s Sun Cable project? “Annual solar irradiation in Australia is the highest per square metre in the world, and we have significant land-mass suitable for large-scale solar developments, and proximity to large and growing markets,” ARENA states.

However, in a nod to old man coal, the Australian government is quick to point out that there is no intention of doing away with our current steam engine technology. 

Perhaps we will now get some solar policy clarity from the federal government, though, which may lead to less perceived risk for investment, leading to lower-cost capital and eventually even lower-cost electricity.

 

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