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SA's wind and solar experiment comes at a cost


Source: AFR, 13 Dec 2015

Extreme price volatility in South Australia's isolated electricity market is usually short-lived, but it is pushing up contract electricity prices permanently.

Five weeks ago, on a Tuesday, strong winds spun South Australia's wind turbines flat out, meeting most of the state's electricity needs and giving industry some of the cheapest energy in the land.

At times the price dropped below zero. But on Wednesday and Thursday the wind suddenly abated, and the turbines ground to a lazy halt. Wind energy production dropped to a fraction of demand, and the high voltage interconnector to Victoria's brown coal power – the usual standby – cut out too.

That brought tightly held local coal and gas-fired power back into the mix, forcing the wholesale price up to about $2400 a megawatt hour at lunchtime on both days.

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