An Australian Government report into emissions predicts that renewable energy will make up 51% of the National Electricity Market (NEM) by 2030.
The new report, Australia’s emissions projections 2019, shows Australia heading into a renewable energy future.
The energy debate has played out in Canberra as a melodrama, one where only tried and true coal can save Australia from the perils of high renewable energy prices. Scott Morrison famously carried a piece of coal into the House, reassuring the Labor Opposition there was nothing to be scared of.
Now it seems the government is acknowledging that the shift to renewables is happening, largely thanks to solar power.
Electricity generation emissions falling
Currently, emissions from fossil-fuel electricity generators like coal and gas make up 34% of Australia’s emissions. The report states that since 2016, emissions from electricity generation have fallen, thanks to the “decarbonisation” of electricity.
“Large deployment of renewables, in particular rooftop solar, form a growing share of generation in the NEM,” it states.
It adds that the continued growth in rooftop solar power “slows the uptake of utility scale over the long-term”.
This is because rooftop solar is also generating large quantities of solar power during the middle of the day. There’s too much solar and not enough people using it.
Utility scale batteries needed to ‘firm up’ solar
The solution is to use utility scale batteries to store that excess daytime solar-generated electricity and “firm up” the grid, feeding electricity back when needed.
The report cites the Snowy 2.0 and the Battery of the Nation hydro storage projects, both utility scale battery plans. The latter is where Tasmania’s extensive hydro system stores renewably-generated electricity from the mainland.
Pumped hydro storage is where electric pumps lift dam water to a higher dam for release later. As the water flows back down, it turns a turbine and generates electricity. If solar-generated electricity is used for the initial pumping, the dams become massive solar batteries.
As the Battery of the Nation, Tasmania would connect to Victoria by a second submarine cable and store renewable energy from the mainland. This will be returned when needed – at night, for example.
Apart from hydro, the report points out that: “In reality a range of technologies has the potential to provide firming capacity including pumped hydro, gas and batteries.”
Australia’s bright solar future
The government’s emissions projections show that rooftop solar, commercial solar and utility scale solar plants are definitely lowering emissions.
In addition, there are economic benefits to installing solar as it cuts on household electricity bills. Some states have rebate and/or interest-free loans schemes to support solar installations, while the federal solar rebate continues to give households substantial discounts.
Contact Solaray to find out how your home can contribute to Australia’s lower emissions with solar power, while cutting your electricity bills too.