Will You Look at That? South Australia’s Power Grid Dropped to Zero Because of Renewables

Will You Look at That? South Australia’s Power Grid Dropped to Zero Because of Renewables
Image: iStock

Over the weekend, something new happened. In a world-first, demand on the South Australia power grid dipped to -46.4 Megawatts with the assistance of renewable energies.

As pointed out by Renew Economy, this is kinda huge. Not only is this the first gigawatt-scale grid to report such performance, but it’s also due to the combined efforts of non-scheduled generators and renewables, like rooftop solar.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) confirmed on Twitter that rooftop solar energy provided 92% of South Australia’s electricity needs on Sunday, helping to set a new minimum demand record. It’s a beautiful thing to see if you’ve been backing renewables.

South Australia renewables
Image: AEMO

While Nemlog reported that the SA power grid dipped to a total demand of -46.4 MW at one point, AEMO reported that it dipped to a scheduled demand low of -38 MW. This happened over the day across several five-minute trading intervals and is largely attributable to renewable energy.

As you can see in the graph above, rooftop solar had a massive impact on the South Australian grid for almost the entire day, as did wind energy. South Australia’s renewables seemed to help the grid out quite a bit.

“This happened because the combined volume of surplus rooftop solar PV and non-scheduled solar and wind generation was greater than electricity consumed in South Australia,” said Michael Gatt, executive general manager of operations at AEMO.

“The NEM performed as expected during this unique event, made possible by directing gas plants to maintain system strength and capacity available via the Victoria-South Australia interconnectors to spill the excess rooftop solar and dispatch the 350 MW of electricity sold into the NEM.”

South Australia’s renewables game is pretty strong and has been for quite some time. It makes sense — with how much sun and wind Australia gets, you’d think we’d be more on top of the shift to renewables.

It’s likely that this is a symptom of things to come, if not across Australia, then across the world, as renewables come into use.