Small-scale, distributed solar currently leaving large-scale, centralised solar in the shade

Two of the topical news stories to arise in the month of March (in a period where energy is quite topical indeed – with issues including the “never-ending story” of the RET Review debate, privatisation in NSW, coal seam gas inquiries galore and a seemingly endless search to identify “wind farm syndrome”) have been:

1)  the first production* from large-scale solar PV at Nyngan; and

*  “first production from large-scale solar” – at least from large-scale solar PV for which data is published by AEMO – hence with apologies to Royalla!  If there was data available, we’d love to include…

2)  the coincident launch of our NEM-Watch widget, in conjunction with RenewEconomy, as another way we serve the broader energy sector by striving to make the complexity of the energy market more understandable to a broad cross-section of interested stakeholders.

On the second point, we have appreciated receiving the range of feedback that’s come in from enjoyers of the service (with comments from David Woodgrove, Mike Reeves and many others helping to inform our plans for the ongoing development of the expanding range of services we provide).  Please keep your feedback coming…

We previously posted early news about first generation at Nyngan seen a week-and-a-half ago, and there’s been plenty of coverage elsewhere on the web (and some in hard-copy) since that time.  This is understandable, given how solar PV is growing rapidly (off a zero base only a couple years ago), and looks set to continue ramping considerably – though the actual growth path will depend on a number of things, including what happens to government support programs, and to efforts to reign in actual network costs (and concerns about the perceived threat of their ongoing escalation – flames which were fanned again in the NSW and QLD election campaigns).

We thought it would be useful to post this visual reminder of how small-scale, distributed solar is currently leaving large-scale, centralised solar in the shade:

NEM-Watch showing how, in the past 24 hours, production from large-scale solar has been dwarfed by production from small-scale solar

This snapshot was taken this morning from the full version of NEM-Watch 10 (also released recently).

So we see that small-scale solar is producing roughly 100 times more than the large-scale solar shown (so 50 times, if we factor in Royalla).  At today’s peak aggregate output of about 1,050MW compared to a scheduled demand of approx 22,500MW, this represents an instantaneous market share of 4.7% (or actually a bit less considering the small-scale solar nets off total demand, which AEMO calls “Native Demand”.

There’s been plenty written about solar recently including why the currently small market share is big news, and why small-scale solar might be fading, but larger systems are where new business can be made currently (here’s one view of why small-scale solar is fading) .

As always, we will watch with interest to see what unfolds…

About the Author

Paul McArdle
One of three founders of Global-Roam back in 2000, Paul has been CEO of the company since that time. As an author on WattClarity, Paul's focus has been to help make the electricity market more understandable.

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