In these days of an accelerating energy transition, we’re finding a diverse range of opportunities popping out of the woodwork. This morning I was meeting with a Director of a company we’re partnering with to assist small solar operators, when the conversation shifted to a more general reflection of the value of Dashboards for making what was once invisible, visible (and, if the design is right, easily understood).
We have many dashboards – some standard, and some specifically developed for particular client purposes – but NEM-Watch is still one of our favourites even though it’s almost 19 years old (having gone through numerous iterations, with another one on the way).
A display copy of NEM-Watch today alerted us to the low wind harvest occurring today right across the NEM – such as in this snapshot from 12:00 showing total wind production down below 200MW NEM wide:
Now that (in and of itself) is actually not that remarkable – this sort of thing happens on a pretty regular basis, and I have posted before about the major need for more diversity in wind farm harvest (something that the current form of support for renewable generation does not really encourage).
What has changed in the more recent months is that there has been an explosion in the numbers of new renewables projects under development (being catalogued in our Generator Catalog). A couple of these are already up and running – including 2 wind farms in the Northern Tablelands of NSW (Sapphire Wind Farm, and White Rock Wind Farm).
Now whilst these not be as far removed from the wind farms crowded into South Australia as those under development in Queensland, I had hoped to see their output would be materially different from those in South Australia. So using our NEMreview historical analysis software package, I selected a sample of wind farms, aiming for the ones that were as far apart as possible ‘as the crow flies’, and produced this time series trend over recent days:
Given that there are a few of them, and the data is noisy, I have coloured them state colours to make them easier to read (clients can access an updated trend with more current data here).
Two things stand out to me:
Conclusion 1) My expectation (perhaps based partly on what some renewables proponents had been telling me) had been that I would not have seen such an amazing, and somewhat scary, degree of alignment of output at these wind farms in SA and northern NSW over the past couple hours. This clearly indicates to me that we’re depending a lot on wind farms in Queensland to achieve a healthy diversity in wind farm harvest as the numbers grow.
Conclusion 2) Adding together the two numbers for wind farms in Tasmania (with Musselroe being the highest) gives something over 150MW – which also equates pretty closely to the numbers seen NEM wide. What this implies (and I have confirmed offline) is that all the wind farms currently across the mainland NEM are contributing, in aggregate, less than 50MW.
As an integrated energy sector, we are going to have to do much, much better in the future (than we have done in the past) if we are going to have a chance of getting where we need to go …