National Energy Emissions Audit: electricity update - April 2019

Electricity Electricity prices Energy industries Energy resources Renewable energy Electricity demand

Welcome to the April 2019 issue of the NEEA Electricity Update, with data updated to the end of March 2019. The Electricity Update presents data on electricity demand, electricity supply, and electricity generation emissions in the National Electricity Market (NEM), plus electricity demand in the South West Interconnected System (SWIS). In this issue we provide a slimmed down version of just the key points and visual representations as we look to trial different variations of the Electricity Update.

Key points:

  • Continued fall in annual emissions over the past few months has been mainly driven by a large absolute increase in large scale solar generation. Rapidly falling gas generation, which was previously a major driver of falling emissions, appears for now to have ended, with annual gas generation almost constant since December last.
  • The dramatic increase in grid scale solar generation has contributed to renewables supplying monthly 14-15% of total generation (including rooftop solar) since last November. This is a dramatic increase in the average 10% to 11% share this time last year.
  • There has been a jump in medium (+15kW) to large (+100kW) rooftop solar installations. The rate of increase of rooftop solar capacity continues to accelerate and, while residential scale installations continue to dominate, commercial scale installations, both smaller (between 15 and 100 kW capacity) and larger (more than 100 kW) have been making strong contributions, for the first time ever, over the past nine months.
  • Our annual review of seasonal peak demand in each state shows that peak 30 minute (trading interval) demand reached record levels in both Queensland and South Australia, during summer 2018-19. The records occurred even with significant contributions of rooftop solar (in both states, though more in South Australia because of the summer time effect) that reduced daily peaks below the levels which would otherwise have been reached.
  • ‘Baseload’ energy demand at a 15 year low in South Australia. Total grid supplied electrical energy consumed in South Australia over the four summer months (December to March) was amongst the lowest experienced over the past fifteen years. The average utilisation of grid supply assets in the state is continuing to decrease, or to put it another way, so-called “base load” consumption, already small, is shrinking further. Nothing could more clearly demonstrate how out of touch with reality are calls for new “base load” generation, while also showing, by contrast, the increasing potential value of energy storage, whether supplied by batteries or pumped hydro.
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