Renewables curtailment rose by 40% in Australia in 2022, says market operator


From pv magazine Australia

Australia has found itself in a rather awkward position, as it needs more renewable generation but simultaneously restricts the amount of renewable generation in large swaths of the national grid. Compounding this is the fact some camps are arguing that new transmission is the only way out of this situation, but Australia’s framework for assessing transmission projects has been deemed unfit for purpose.

Curtailment of renewable projects has jumped almost 40% in the past year, Daniel Westerman, the CEO of AEMO, told a forum in Sydney on May 15.  The most impacted states are Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), though the woes extend into parts of Queensland.

“From our control room we can see that increasing amounts of solar and wind generation are being curtailed because there’s not enough transmission capacity to transport it,” Westerman said.

“From January to March, the links from Victoria to NSW and Tasmania were at their limits for 42% and 57% of the time respectively. And during those hours when the sun is producing free electrons, the links were binding for two-thirds of the time to NSW, and over 80% of the time to Tasmania,” he said. “In other words, parts of our energy highway are at gridlock.”

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Ian Learmonth, the CEO of Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corp. (CEFC), said Australia is well below where it needs to be to reach its climate targets – that is, 43% emissions reduction and more than 80% renewable generation in the national grid by 2030.

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“In order to meet these very ambitious goals around renewable energy and emissions, we need to install an estimated 29 GW of large-scale renewables,” Learmonth said. “That’s about 3.6 GW a year or 300 megawatts a month. That’s a substantial wind farm a month.”

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