Rooftop solar boosts generation record in South Australia

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South Australia’s energy requirements were fulfilled by solar power earlier in October with rooftop systems contributing 77 per cent of the state’s electricity.  

Rooftop solar

For one hour on October 11, South Australia’s 288,000 rooftop systems provided 992MW and large-scale solar 313MW to power the state.

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“The domination and successful integration of rooftop solar in South Australia foreshadows the rebuilding of jurisdictional power systems in Australia,” said Audrey Zibelman, managing director and CEOAEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator). “Never before has a jurisdiction the size of South Australia been completely run be solar power.”

The new record is said to follow the previous milestone of 89 per cent of state demand set on September 13, 2020, when rooftop solar output reached 900MW for the first time.

To achieve this level of renewable penetration, AEMO said it has worked closely with transmission and distribution network service providers throughout the National Electricity Market, including ElectraNet and SA Power Networks in South Australia, to ensure the power system remains secure and reliable.

“AEMO is also working hard to identify technical solutions to replace power system services, such as inertia, system strength and voltage control, traditionally provided by conventional thermal generation in Australia to reach higher penetrations of renewable generation,” Zibelman said in a statement.

AEMO’s Integrated System Plan (ISP) forecasts that by 204, 63 per cent of coal generation will need to be replaced with grid-scale renewable energy (26GW) and dispatchable resources (6 to 19GW). Distributed energy sources, such as rooftop PV and residential batteries, are also expected to double or triple in capacity by 2040.

“South Australia is experiencing a surge in rooftop solar installations,” Zibelman said. “AEMO is forecasting an additional 36,000 new rooftop solar systems in the next 14 months, which will mean that South Australia’s grid will see zero demand as rooftop solar alone will be capable of meeting 100 per cent of demand.”