Australia sets new wind output record, breaks through 6,000MW for first time

September 4, 2021
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Australia’s main grid has set yet more news record for wind output, beating a new record set just days earlier and smashing through the 6,000MW mark for the first time on Saturday and leaping to more than 6,400MW a day later.

The peak wind output in the National Electricity Market set on Saturday was 6,120MW, at 8.25pm, according to energy analysts Dylan McConnell from the Climate and Energy College, and Paul McArdle from Global Roam.

It was then broken a day later, at 5.40pm on Sunday, when it reached a peak of 6,421MW, and then up to 6,428MW at 8.05pm. The average renewable energy output in Australia’s main grid was more than 50 per cent from around 10.30am to 3pm.

As it did on Tuesday, when a new peak of 5,899MW had been set, the new wind records appeared to have been facilitated by the relaxation of constraints in South Australia, which allowed for big jumps in output from that state.

The constraints in South Australia have been relaxed for testing and trials of the first of four synchronous condensers that will be installed in the state, and also because of high demand, there are many gas units in operation.

These new syncons, spinning machines that do not burn fuel, mean the Australian Energy Market Operator will not need to instruct gas generators to switch on as often to provide essential services to the grid, and means that artificial caps on the output of renewables can be relaxed.

The artificial constraints on large scale solar and wind output in South Australia are currently at just below 1,300MW most of the time (with around six gas units), but will be allowed to go to 2,500MW with all four syncons operating , and just two gas units.

That in turn will allow for a significant increase in the share of wind and solar generation in South Australia’s grid, already at a world-leading level of just over 60 per cent over the past year.

When most of the new records of the past week have been set, South Australia has been producing around 1,700MW of wind generation. This is not the first time this has happened, but the first time it has coincided with strong wind events elsewhere.

Two new major wind projects are already under construction, including the second stage of the 464MW Lincoln Gap wind farm, and the country’s biggest wind-solar hybrid project at the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Hub, which will feature 207MW of wind and 110MW of solar.

The first two of four synchronous generators are to be installed at Davenport substation near Port Augusta in South Australia and then at Robertstown. Many analysts expect battery storage to be able to deliver similar grid services.

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