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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Energy dynamics deliver fresh records for renewables

Renewable energy in the national electricity market is setting new records and most wholesale energy prices are returning to normal, the market operator says.

Rooftop solar may be hitting new record highs from coast to coast but the west is stuck with higher wholesale electricity prices, the latest energy market data shows.

Western Australia is also depleting its stores of gas as production drops, according to a report released on Monday by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

With prices returning to historical levels, significant price volatility was only evident in South Australia when Heywood interconnector outages during August coincided with low wind generation, the Quarterly Energy Dynamics report found.

The closure of AGL's Liddell coal-fired power plant was partially offset by increased availability of the remaining NSW black coal fleet.

The largest coal plant, Origin Energy's Eraring, which the NSW government is considering keeping open for longer, increased output during morning and evening peak periods as well as overnight hours.

Record renewable generation output in the three months to September slashed average wholesale electricity prices in the national electricity market (NEM) by more than two-thirds, and reduced emissions by 11 per cent compared to a year earlier.

A new renewable record was set just after midday on September 21 at 70 per cent of total NEM generation. Renewable potential hit a new high at 98.6 per cent for the half-hour just after midday on September 16.

Wholesale electricity prices averaged $63 per megawatt hour (MWh) in the September quarter, down 41 per cent from the June quarter ($108/MWh) and plunging a whopping 71 per cent ($216/MWh) compared to a year earlier.

Black coal-fired generation output fell to its lowest Q3 average at 9718 MW, which was a 10 per cent decline on last year.

By region, South Australia recorded the highest average quarterly price at $92/MWh, followed by NSW ($81/MWh), Queensland ($65/MWh), Victoria ($49/MWh) and Tasmania ($29/MWh).

But WA's separate wholesale electricity market had a record average of $99/MWh, up 27 per cent on a year earlier.

Amid fears the rollout of clean energy is falling behind, 1.7GW of new projects were progressing through registration and 2.1GW were commissioned to full output compared to 2.4GW at the end of Q3 2022. 

A further 10GW of new projects were finalising contracts and under construction (pre-registration), up from 6.8GW this time last year, AEMO said.

WA domestic gas production was 99 petajoules in the quarter, down eight per cent on a year ago. Consumption also fell but there was a net withdrawal from storage of 1.2PJ.

East coast wholesale gas prices plunged from record levels a year ago to average $10.41 per gigajoule (GJ).


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