Renewable electricity generation exceeded that of fossil fuels for the first time during the summer months, meeting peak demand.
The Turnbull government has little faith in renewable energy, but during this hot summer, green energy has done its best. Thanks mainly to constantly clear skies that have pushed solar production to record levels, Australian renewables generated nearly 10,000 GWh between December 2017 and February 2018. A figure similar to that of coal (a source that normally provides around half of the national electricity supply) certainly interesting.
Ultimately, solar and wind power far surpassed fossil fuels, surpassing the production of electricity from coal for the first time in their history. This result was also made possible by the closure of the impressive Hazelwood thermoelectric power station, which alone supplied more than 5% of Australia’s total electricity demand: without its contribution, coal produced around 9,100 GWh .
During the same period, renewables have also outpaced gas production, which is 40 percentage points higher, and obviously the small share of electricity supplied by diesel generators, only allowing coal to exceed them.
The data was made public in the latest Green Energy Markets Update, which explains how renewables not only produced ‘a lot’, but also how they did it at the right time. Concretely, they were able to respond to peaks in summer demand, since only photovoltaic energy exceeded the maximum production of the previous summer (at times it even generated up to 162% more).
As Miriam Lyons, campaign manager for GetUp, who commissioned the report, explains, “Renewables in the summer kept homes cool during peak periods when people needed electricity the most. Meanwhile, old coal-fired power plants are proving less and less reliable. Clean energy saved Australia from summer blackouts. When the Loy Yang coal-fired power plant ran into trouble, South Australia’s gigantic Tesla Battery responded within milliseconds to keep the current going.
Green energy markets are also looking to the future and estimate that renewable energy production will increase significantly over the next two years. In this context, photovoltaic solar roofs remain very popular: 117 new megawatts were installed in February 2018, for a total of 17,252 installations.