Solar becoming competitive with wind as ACT moves towards renewables target

Submissions to the ACT’s latest “next generation” renewable energy tender indicate solar power is now competitive with wind energy, possibly suggesting a future shift in Australia’s roll-out of renewable energy technologies.

ACT environment and energy minister Simon Corbell told the Clean Energy Summit that the reverse auction of more than 200MW of renewable energy capacity – which will take the ACT to its goal of sourcing the equivalent of 100 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2020 – is pitting wind energy against solar.

The results are not likely to be announced for a few weeks, although it is known that more than 1,000MW of capacity was tendered, and this included half a dozen solar projects.

What I can say is that there is clear and real competition between wind and solar for first time through this market discovery process,” Corbell said.

The ACT recently sourced the cheapest wind energy in Australia, when it contracted another 100MW of capacity from the Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia for $77/MWh, which is fixed for 20 years and does not rise with inflation.

While most forecasts assume wind energy will play a dominant role in meeting the 33,000GWh renewable energy target, some analysts suggest much of the capacity could come from large-scale solar as costs fall dramatically, a process being helped by the tender being run by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The ACT government’s new “next generation” tender will also be used to help fund the deployment of up to 5,000 battery storage systems in homes and businesses in the Capital Territory.

Corbell says this will be equivalent to around 36MW of battery storage capacity, and he estimates it will deliver some $220 million in network savings to the local grid.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson