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Renewables Become New Baseload For Power In South Australia

Only a week after South Australia closed its last coal-fired generator, renewables are stepping up to act as the state’s power baseload.

The imaginatively named southern Australian state of South Australia recently closed its last coal-fired generator earlier this month, with Alinta Energy’s Port Augusta brown coal power generator switched off on the morning of May 9th. RenewEconomy‘s Live Generation figures show coal’s absence, leaving gas, wind, and solar to pick up the slack.

South Australia-1

South Australia’s power generation will necessarily flex, as is the nature of renewable energy, and you can see that gas is likely to serve immediately as the reliable energy generator for the immediate future.

However, the Melbourne Energy Institute believes that, “already a new pattern is emerging that points the way to a new energy system” in South Australia “built around wind and solar and other renewables,” rather than coal, gas, or nuclear. RenewEconomy‘s live figures show things as they are at the time I’m writing, but a graph provided by Dylan McConnel from the Melbourne Energy Institute shows the first week of electricity production in South Australia after the Port Augusta coal plant was switched off.

South Australia-2

As can be seen, wind energy (the green in the middle) provided a substantial majority of the state’s power for the week.

The Melbourne Energy Institute believes this is to be the likely pattern in the future for electricity generation in South Australia. Energy systems with high renewable energy penetration will rely first on variable electricity providers such as wind and solar, and then resort to “flexible” or “dispatchable” sources such as gas, as is the situation at the moment, or looking forward, hydro, solar towers with storage, and emerging technologies such as geothermal or ocean energy.

This means in the near future, South Australia may need to rely on gas from in-state, or brown coal from Victoria. Looking forward, however, South Australia may need not worry, with plans for 100% renewable energy by 2030 in the cards.

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