In late October the Australian National Electricity Market achieved a new record of just under 70% renewable energy for a 5 minute period. It’s the latest in a series of records, that highlight the combination of mild weather and the commissioning of new wind and solar generation. As well as being a useful event for journalists seeking newspaper headlines, these short term events also demonstrate what is possible with the technologies that are available today. They are a great reminder that Australia is on the right path to achieving carbon abatement targets in the electricity sector.
Better still – the average contribution of electricity generated from renewable sources continues to rise. We are now passing through 30% and (supply chains allowing) appear destined to rapidly accelerate towards 50% on the back of State-driven development. The more we depend on this energy, the less we are dependent on the technologies that are reliant on globally priced fuel (coal and gas). It is these fuels that are driving the high short term prices in electricity markets today. In the short periods when we get to turn these generators off, wholesale electricity prices (generally) dramatically fall. Our goal is all about making these periods occur more frequently and for longer duration. We do this with greater diversity and controllability of renewable energy sources, responsive loads and energy storage solutions.