Record renewable generation drives Australian power prices down

Record levels of renewable energy output has driven down Australia’s wholesale power prices, according to a report published  by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO)

AEMO said in its energy dynamics report for the first quarter of 2023 that demand from the national electricity market fell to its lowest level since 2005.

Wholesale prices in the national electricity market averaged 83 Australian dollars per megawatt-hour (MWh) between January and March, down from 93 Australian dollars and 216 Australian dollars in the previous two quarters.

The fall was largely attributed to significant increases in renewable output.

AEMO said the amount of electricity produced by rooftop solar systems nationwide was 23 percent higher in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

Generation from large-scale wind and solar farms was also 11 percent higher.

At the same time, energy generation from coal and gas declined, with the latter providing its smallest share of electricity supply for the first quarter of the year since 2005.

For the entire quarter, national electricity market emissions totaled 28.83 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent — a record low for the period.

Electricity generation is Australia’s biggest polluter, accounting for approximately one-third of the country’s emissions.

Daniel Westerman, chief executive of AEMO, said the data reflected the shift underway in Australia’s electricity system as the country pursues a net zero emissions future.

He said it underlined the need for more investment in new transmission and firming technology to connect the new locations of wind and solar farms, and to even out the variable nature of renewable generation. (1 Australian dollar equals about 0.66 U.S. dollars) ■

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