Clean Power

Published on February 5th, 2014 | by Giles Parkinson


Rooftop Solar Supplies 10% Of Power Demand In 3 Key Australian States

February 5th, 2014 by  

Originally published on RenewEconomy.

The recent heat waves in the southern states and the response of the electricity grids to surging demand, and the role played by renewables such as solar and wind, has been given increasing attention.

Yesterday, we checked back on the APVI’s excellent solar map and this graph caught our eye. It is the percentage of demand in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia that was accounted for by rooftop solar PV.

It is not that the levels of more than 10 per cent should be exceptional – in South Australia, the contribution of solar PV hit over 15 per cent on several days last week – it’s just that it occurred in those three states at the same time, and lasted for most of the daylight hours – certainly between 10am and 4pm. (The graphs stagger because of the different time zones)

solar three states

Intrigued by the contribution of rooftop solar PV in WA, particularly in light of our story last week about the fragile nature of the fossil fuel-grid, we checked back on the WA market operator’s site to see what was happening on the same day. Interestingly, wind was also performing well during the day time. The Colgar wind farm, which operates at a fantastic capacity factor of near 50 per cent (much of it during the day), was contributing 8 per cent of WA’s demand. Add in the other wind farms in the state, biomass and the unmetered solar PV, and the total gets to around 25 per cent. Th other thing to note is the price – for much of the time when demand was rising, prices actually fell – most likely due to the impact of rooftop solar and other renewables.

WA sunday

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About the Author

is the founding editor of, 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.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Yesterday at around noon solar was supplying about 15% or more of electricity use in Adelaide and it will do around the same today.

  • A Real Libertarian

    Th other thing to note is the price”


  • JamesWimberley

    The “fried eggs” of solar output in Australia look much less peaky than in Germany. Australinans, lacking an FIT, are more motivated to seek self-consumption rather than maximum output.
    Note that the Western Australi grid is not connected to the main one covering the eastern seaboard and some of the south. Perth’s surplus solar is not available for time-shifting backup to the east. The USA, Europe and land Asia do have grids covering several time zones, so time-shifting is already an option.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Mainland US has three separate grids (east, west and Texas) which have little to no ability to trade power.

      We’re in the process of building HVDC to tie the east and west together and seem to be creating an all-three grid connection in New Mexico (Tres Amigas) but none of that is in place yet.

    • Ronald Brakels

      I’d say our more higgely piggly panel orientation compared to Germany has mostly been due to our lack of utility scale solar. This gives us more even electricity production through the day with the drawback of fewer kilowatt-hours being produced in total than if more panels were optimally positioned. But more people are going for self consumption now that high feed in tariffs are long gone.

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