Over the last year the transformation of the National Electricity Market (NEM) has progressed at a remarkable pace and scale. Utility scale wind and solar PV continued its rapid roll out with an additional 3,184 MW of wind and solar accredited over the past 12 months.
Equally remarkable is the growth in Distributed Energy Resources or rooftop solar PV, batteries and smart meters. Over the last year the number of installations remained at 140,000 – 160,000 per month; however the average size of each installation increased. The 6.5-9.5 kW category is now the most common size of solar panel installation.
AEMO estimates that 16% of electricity consumed in the NEM in 2018-19 was generated by wind and solar PV and this is forecast to increase rapidly, driven by falling technology costs, government programs, and consumer preferences. By 2022 the proportion is forecast to be around 27% and by 2030 above 40%. This size and pace of transition places Australia in an international cohort that includes Ireland, California, Germany, Spain and Portugal.
Australian jurisdictions are in different phases of transition. Tasmania with its hydro and wind resources is able to operate at close to 100% renewables. South Australia operates with a variable renewables output of about 53% annually. Other States in the NEM are currently operating in a zone of 10-20% of variable renewables output and this proportion is growing quickly. What is uniquely Australian is the proportion of generation from rooftop solar PV. At present this is about 5% of total NEM generation output; by 2030 it is expected to be 10%.