Australia’s main grid electricity demand was met by 50% renewable energy for the first time last week.
At 11.50am on November 6, the market showed 50.2% of power came from renewables, including wind and solar power.
In fact, solar took a leading role in breaking the 50% barrier, with rooftop installations playing an important part.
Energy widget shows power of renewables
A widget produced by Energy Consumers Australia and the University of Melbourne’s Climate & Energy College recorded the milestone.
It monitors the National Electricity Market (NEM), which powers the east coast from Queensland to South Australia, including Tasmania.
The OpenNEM widget displays electricity demand and supply data from the Australian Energy Market Operator in an interactive graph. It breaks power generation into coal, gas, wind, hydro, batteries (discharging), rooftop solar panels and utility solar.
Solar power took care of 32.5% of the grid’s needs on November 6, with 23.7% rooftop solar and 8.8% large-scale solar in play.
Dylan McConnell from the University of Melbourne’s Climate & Energy College told the Guardian: “We will start to see this happening more frequently. It was just a snapshot in time, but it’s indicative of an underlying trend in the system.”
Rooftop solar: strength in numbers
These figures reflect the importance of rooftop solar power. Taken singly, a rooftop solar system hardly affects Australia’s energy use. But combine the output of 2.2 million solar systems across the country and the impact is real. As a result, coal and gas generators are needed less, which means less CO2 emissions and pollutants.
The continuous installation of rooftop solar across Australia is due in part to government solar rebates.
Last year, the Victorian Government introduced its Solar Homes program, which offers rebates up to $2,225 for solar panel installation. It issues rebate quotas each month — which quickly get snapped up. There are also rebates for home battery installation (the majority of these are still available).
In NSW, the government wants net zero emissions by 2050, and has a limited rebate scheme for low-income earners.
Queensland has offered interest-free loans and grants for solar panels, home batteries and solar + batteries.
Federal scheme still best solar incentive
However, the main financial incentive is still the federal solar energy rebate, which amounts to a substantial discount on solar installation costs. There are good reasons to take advantage of this in the lead up to Christmas, as this article reveals.
If you’ve been thinking about installing solar panels or a battery and want to know more, contact us. Solaray’s power experts can help you become part of Australia’s switch to clean power.