Large Solar in the NEM mainland regions

The growth of Large Solar in the NEM has been phenomenal, and a sign that things are changing quickly in the Australian energy industry.

The chart attached is the maximum output of each region from Large Solar installations on a weekly basis.  At the start of 2018 output was 280 MW across all regions:

  • Almost all of this was from NSW at Nyngan, Moree, Broken Hill and Royalla;
  • Qld had two solar farms in Barcaldine (20 MW) and Kidston which at the time was only generating 10 MW.

In March, generation from Kidston increased to 45 MW.  By April Clare started generating and by August there were poles firmly planted in the ground, on a dozen sites with a capacity of 600 MW.

But Queensland was not the only bright spot!  NSW saw Parkes, Griffith and Dubbo, as well as Coleambally by September and then a few weeks later so did Griffith.

Current generation from solar in NSW is now just over 500 MW.

Both Victoria and South Australia had no generation from Large Scale Solar at the start of 2018: they are now generating 130 and 180 MW respectively.  As of early December, at the time of writing this article, generation from large scale solar in the mainland regions of the NEM are up to 1500 MW.  That’s more than a 400% increase from the start of the year.

The look ahead beyond 2019 as displayed on the above graph is based on data on AEMO’s Generation Information Page; and only on those that have a status of “Committed” or “Com*”.  Some of these projects have likely been affected by the collapse of engineering company RCR, and so the assumption that there may be delays on many projects currently being built or in the stages of commissioning, the potential pipeline of projects is still significant.  We have assumed that there will be no generation until February 2019 for Qld projects about to come on line.

The question that a lot of people have asked is how will this extra generation affect the electricity market and there are many different ways to answer that which we won’t do today. However, we also want to posit a slightly different question– how will all these new solar generators be impacted by the ever-changing and dynamic electricity market?

About our Guest Author

Nick Bartels is a Senior Consultant at Greenview Strategic Consulting.

Greenview Strategic Consulting was formed to provide specialist market advice to energy, government and community organisations in the complex domain of energy and critical infrastructure.

You can find Nick on LinkedIn here.

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