Solar energy on the roof continues to have a dramatic impact on the shape of the power grids in Australia, and this week “minimum operational demand” pushed levels to record lows in both Victoria and South Australia.
There is now more than 13 GW of solar energy on the roof of Australian homes and businesses, growing at a rate of more than 3 GW per year, changing the demand and supply profile for the country’s main grid.
The Australian energy market operator says Victoria reached a new minimum record in operational demand on Sunday of 2,402 MW, down from the previous lowest level of 2,529 MW set on Christmas Day last year. At that time, solar energy on the roof supplied 47 percent of the underlying demand compared to 40 percent on December 25th.
In southern Australia, the decline had been even more dramatic. The minimum operational demand fell by more than 20 percent to 188 MW on Sunday, beating the previous record of 236 MW just over a month earlier on 26 September.
At that time, solar energy on the roof delivered 87 percent (or 1,215 MW) of the underlying demand, probably a record for total production, but just back for the record of 88 percent a few weeks ago.
It is a dramatic restructuring of the way the network works, although it is not unexpected. AEMO has predicted that solar energy on the roof could reach 100 percent of local demand sometime in the spring, when moderate temperatures keep demand relatively low.
It would push “minimum operational demand” to negative territory, one of the reasons why AEMO has introduced new inverter standards that allow it or its agents to “turn off” some roof solar energy if necessary to maintain network security. .
It looks at smarter ways to “orchestrate” solar energy and household appliances on the roof so that it can also create “loads” by turning on appliances. More storage will also be a solution, as well as large loads such as green hydrogen.
Giles Parkinson is the founder and editor of Renew Economy, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid and the founder / editor of the EV-focused The Driven. Giles has been a journalist for 40 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.