South Australia assessed applications for almost 2 GW of PV generation in the past six months

The first solar power installation on an Australian Parliament House built by Origin Energy was turned on in June 2005

South Australia already leads the nation in the uptake of wind energy and rooftop solar with renewable sources accounting for more than 50 percent of the electricity generated in the state. In its latest National Energy Emissions Audit, public policy think tank The Australia Institute says total renewable generation in South Australia has equated to more than half of total consumption in nine of the past 12 months. The audit also found that in July all demand in the state could be supplied by wind and solar for 88 trading intervals (44 hours) with some left over to export.
During July, »there was no base load and there never will be again,« the report states. »Eliminating base load is what the transition to a low emission renewable generation based electricity supply system is doing, in South Australia, in the rest of Australia, and round the world.«
The South Australian system remains reliant on high gas generation from its Torrens Island power station for a stable supply system even when renewable generation is large enough to meet all demand in the state. The South Australian Government has also assessed applications for almost two gigawatts of renewable energy generation across six projects in the past six months.
Of these, the 280 MW »Cultana Solar Farm« – the first large scale project in billionaire industrialist Sanjeev Gupta’s »1 gigawatt renewable energy« plan in South Australia – was approved in May. Two other South Australian projects – the 95 MW »Tailem Bend Solar Project« and stage one of the 220 MW »Bungala Solar Farm« near Port Augusta - started exporting power to the national grid earlier this year.
There are also several large-scale energy storage projects being proposed, including Tesla’s 100 MW / 129 MWh battery system, which was installed at Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm in December 2017. The Tesla battery has played a critical role in maintaining grid security during times of instability. There are already three solar PV and battery storage projects planned along the 330 kilovolt (kV) above-ground SA-NSW interconnector – two near Robertstown and one near Morgan – totalling 1,140 MW of generation and 670 MW of storage.
In 2016, South Australia closed the state’s last coal-fired power station. »South Australian electricity supply system provides real world evidence of how a new base load generator, such as a nuclear power station, could not be incorporated into a system with a high proportion of variable renewable generation,« says the report.
Electricity infrastructure provider ElectraNet is planning an AUD1.5 billion (USD 1.01 billion) 800 MW National Energy Grid interconnector linking South Australia and New South Wales. The 900 km interconnector linking Robertstown in South Australia’s Mid North with Wagga Wagga in central New South Wales is expected to provide further grid stability and allow South Australia more options to export electricity when completed in 2022.

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