Rooftop solar pushes WA grid demand to 8-year low

Western Australia has charted its lowest levels of grid electricity demand in more than eight years, thanks to the state’s fast moving uptake of rooftop solar.

In yet another example of how the distributed solar PV is is hollowing out demand during the middle of the day, WA recorded on Sunday 29 October its lowest level of demand since November 1, 2009 – a low of 1265MW in the 12pm to 1230pm trading interval, when there was around 420MW of output from rooftop solar PV.

And it won’t be a once off. The local grid operator expects that over the next decade, the level of rooftop solar – possibly on 90 per cent of businesses and two thirds of homes – will actually push minimum grid demand down to zero on some occasions.

Already, this year, WA rooftop solar installations are racing 49 per cent ahead of the record levels of 2016, and distributed PV capacity in the main grid now totals 785MW.

By 2027, AEMO expects this to jump to around 1,800MW, significantly more than the minimum demand now. But in a high installation scenario, it says it could be 2,200MW by 2027.

That is going to increase the need for storage, and for more flexible generation to respond to the growing penetration of large scale wind and solar, and the rapidly increasing uptake of rooftop solar.

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Giles Parkinson