The renewables market share has gone down, but has been heavily distorted by a decline in hydro generation. Hydro storages are down after a period of intense running while the carbon price was still in place. Also, the market share is really showing the effects of the RET review, which has stagnated utility scale renewable energy projects.
Clean energy market analysts Green Energy Markets, have released their monthly update for February on developments in the large, utility-scale renewable energy sector.
Renewable energy (excluding rooftop solar) made up 11% of generation in the National Electricity Market (NEM) for February, following the typical seasonal pattern of a low in renewable generation over summer. This is exacerbated and distorted by the fact that hydro generation is down significantly as they are still rebuilding their storages after running intensely to maximise revenue while the carbon price was still in place pre-July 2014.
Figure 1: National Electricity Market renewable energy generation and market share (excludes rooftop solar)
Since January 2013 a number of wind farms have become operational but their effect in growing renewable energy’s market share is overwhelmed by declines in hydro. The chart below illustrates wind generation over 2014 and 2015 is generally higher than the same months in 2013 (but with August being a rather large exception where wind farms achieved a capacity factor of 52%). Therefore were it not for hydro running down storages to take advantage of the temporary carbon tax windfall, one would have expected renewable energy’s market share to have grown over the last few years.
Of course this would have been less of an issue were it not for investment in utility-scale renewable energy becoming frozen by the Coalition Government’s decision to review the RET, appointing a panel of people deemed by the market to be hostile to government support of renewable energy (see: The market decides: Review panel to knife renewables).
Figure 2: Monthly wind generation by state all wind farms with metered generation (sourced from NEM Review)