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Published on August 11th, 2014 | by Giles Parkinson

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Wind Meets 43% Of South Australia’s Energy Demand In July

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August 11th, 2014 by  

RenewEconomy

South Australia’s wind farms produced enough electricity to meet a record 43 per cent of the state’s power needs during July, and on occasions during the month provided all the state’s electricity needs.

The output was boosted by the addition of the 275MW Snowtown II wind farm earlier in the month. Before that, the state’s 1,200MW of wind farms had provided around 28 per cent of the state’s electricity demand in 2012/13.

Combined with the state’s 550MW of solar power, it is likely that nearly half of the state’s electricity demand came from variable renewable sources such as wind and solar – a record for a major developed economy.

sa wind generation

Spain, for instance, this week, said that in July solar made up 8 per cent of its power supply, spread evenly between concentrated solar thermal and solar PV – while wind energy contributed 16.8% of the overall energy generation mix.

“With more than 40 per cent of the state’s power demand provided by wind energy for the entire month, it is clear that large amounts of renewable energy can be added to the system without the need for extra backup generation to be built,” Clean Energy Council acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton said in a statement.

“The South Australian example shows that wind power can generate jobs and investment, as well as large amounts of renewable electricity.

“During a short period early in the morning of 31 July, wind power met all of the state’s power needs, as well as providing more than 90 per cent for large parts of 8 July,” he said.”

sa generation mix

As well as the new record set in South Australia, wind power provided an average of about 7 per cent of Victoria’s electricity demand, and around 6 per cent across the National Electricity Market.

Thornton said that while wind was variable, it was also predictable, allowing the grid operator to source the mix of power generation that would deliver the lowest possible prices for consumers.

“This technology has been a clear wind-win for South Australia, generating more than $5 billion of investment over the last decade, creating hundreds of jobs and providing the state with a cleaner power supply – at a low cost to consumers.

“None of this would be possible without the national Renewable Energy Target, which is currently under review. Approximately $15 billion of additional investment will be generated by the policy if the scheme if left as it is currently legislated.”

RenewEconomy. Reproduced with permission.

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About the Author

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.



  • Paul Turner

    Spot on James. There was a surge in fossil fuel generation assets around 2000 based on predicted increasing economic activity. Ironically just as more RE was being added to the system. Come the crash of 2008 with the decrease in electricity consumption, together with the grid having realized that they could efficiently use all the wind and solar resources they had at minimal cost, the shiny new fossil fuelled generators became just that – fossils. There is a movement in Spain to force the politicians to stop protecting their cronies and get Spain back on track of replacing fossil fuels with RE, but it´s a hard fight.

  • Paul Turner

    Last year renewables provided 51% of all of Spain´s electricity. Ironically at the moment RE production is down, showing that there is still massive potential for more solar. In 2013 an installed wind capacity of about 22 gigs provide 21% of all power against nuclears installed capacity of about 7.3 gigs producing 20%.20%.

    • JamesWimberley

      Spain is Australia’s twin. The savage reversal on solar (from generous support to punitive penalties and retroactive incentive cuts) has been IMHO driven by the catastrophic finances of overbuilt fossil generators. The wind industry, led by the influential Iberdrola, has been able to protect itself.

      • Patrick Linsley

        Is this the same in Portugal? The only reason I ask is because they seem to also be very heavy in wind power too.

  • spec9

    Between wind & solar, Australia just doesn’t need all that coal capacity that they needlessly built.

    • Adc

      Cash for exports.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Australian grid demand is now 8% below its peak. As Australia has more than twice the US population growth and over three times that of Europe, we’re about 18% below the what demand per capita would be if it had held steady. However, the generators and electricity distributers didn’t predict that demand would fall or hold steady, they predicted it would increase and they massively expanded capacity. And since they were permitted to hike electricity prices to cover their loses, a case of tails I win heads you lose, electricity prices soared. In response to increasing electricity prices people used less electricity which caused prices to rise even further, resulting in even higher prices. It could be called a vicious circle, but it’s more of a stupid one. Anyway, all up I’m paying about 48 cents a kilowatt-hour for grid electricity now.

      • Calamity_Jean

        “I’m paying about 48 cents a kilowatt-hour for grid electricity now.” Ouch, that must be very painful for your wallet.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Not really. Firstly we are incredibly rich in Australia. Secondly, many of us have the option of installing solar power. If you do get your power cut off Australian mateship means you can rely on your neighbors throwing an extention cord across the fence. Of course our Coal-ition government has staked its reputation (I bet you didn’t know it had one!) on electricity prices going down thanks to their axing our carbon price. It would have reduced my electricity bill by less than 2%, but thanks to soaring natural gas prices and a continuing decline in the amount of grid electricity being used, electricity prices will continue to rise, so they’re in a bit of a pickle there.

          • Kevin McKinney

            “Coal-ition”–apt, indeed.

      • Matt

        Econ 101: elastic demand – Price goes up demand goes down

        • Ronald Brakels

          Yes except they didn’t do Econ 101. They just did Econ 10, except the one is lying on its side and entering the zero.

      • Will E

        Ronald

        why do you pay 48 cents a Kwh.
        go Solar. Chinese solar panel price is 0,35 dollar cents a Kwh, producing 35 years. is 1 cent a kwh , and Austrlia gets 4 times installed capacity from the sun. The sun is a barrel of dollars for you.
        so your price can be 0,25 dollarcent.
        and it is clean, it is cheap and it is easy
        a DIY job can do the job.
        I live in the Netherlands and have Solar PV for 2 years now and pay no more energy bill.
        next project will be Tesla electric car and Solar on the garage. also DIY job.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Gotta use a bit of electricity at night. The dog doesn’t like the dark, I got to keep the beer cold, and I need power for the cattle prod I use to stun the funnel web spiders.

          • vensonata

            48cents! The revolution has begun. Pv with battery storage without incentives can be installed for 25cents kwh. Oh well, not only are Australians incredibly rich, they are incredibly smart, and incredibly handsome, so I don’t have to tell them the obvious. Must get me one of those cattle prods to stun the Canadian mosquitoes.

      • eveee

        In other word, the utility death spiral. It should be called the spiral of utility stupidity and arrogance. They deserve to go out of business.

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