The National Electricity Market is undergoing a significant transformation. Over the next twenty years a large amount of Australia’s fleet of coal generators will reach the end of their operating life. It seems likely that much of that capacity will be replaced with renewables, in particular solar PV and wind turbines, with firming of those variable sources of generation provided by battery storage, pumped hydro and gas peaking units.
After a decade of slow growth in renewables, mostly residential rooftop solar and windfarms along Australia’s southern coast, 2017 was a breakthrough year for commercial scale solar. This has continued with 2018 the year that utility scale solar took off. There are also several more large windfarms under construction or planned and the South Australian solar thermal plant near Port Augusta.
There has been a global shift in business thinking and practice regarding renewables. Environment, social and governance challenges are key priorities for government and big corporates. Investors are increasingly divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in clean renewable energy as well.
In the current Australian political climate, there are concerns from the renewables industry that government intervention in the market will have a rolling impact on investment. The fear is that government backing of new generation will reduce confidence in the market and raise risk for investments not backed by the federal funding system.
However, the latest data from the National Energy Emissions Audit shows the the renewable energy share of Australia’s generation is now 21.2%, showing that industry has not yet slowed and that renewables are increasingly as vital as fossil fuels in our NEM.
Ground Mounted Solar
Solar Thermal Plant