Australia Editor's Picks Environment Latest Top Stories

Renewable energy supply grows to meet over 50% of Australia’s electricity demand

PERTH, Australia: Green energy sources — mostly solar and wind have met over 50% of supply for the first time for Australia’s national electricity market on Wednesday.

The national electricity market (NEM) provides power to all jurisdictions except Western Australia and the Northern Territory, which have separate grids.

Angus Gemmell, the founder and head of renewable energy firm Solar Choice, lauded the achievement. He said it showed Australia was rapidly reducing its reliance on fossil fuels such as coal.

“It came probably a bit sooner than expected … but it’s a pivotal moment to — for 10 minutes yesterday — have more than half of all the electrons on the main grid, this vast contiguous grid, being clean and coming from renewable resources.”

Ideal weather conditions on Wednesday had made the unanticipated achievement possible.

These included the combination of strong winds blowing across most of south-east Australia and a “very clear sunny day”.

However, industry observers say the 50% milestone was reached even though renewable energy providers were operating below capacity.

South Australia, a renewable powerhouse, was exporting green power across its borders on Wednesday but four out of five solar farms in Victoria were not at full capacity.

Energy experts said the industry was looking forward to the rise of storage such as big batteries and pumped hydro-power to allow Australians to switch from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Australia’s energy markets, regulation and pricing needed to change to recognise technologies like batteries.