Australia’s renewable energy market is set for another record year in 2020 as Rystad Energy expects utility wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) projects totaling 3.6 gigawatts (GWac) of capacity to complete commissioning, up from 2.6 GWac in 2019.
This comprises 1.96 GWac in utility PV projects and 1.57 GWac in wind developments, with the remaining 0.1 GWac coming from batteries. It is also likely that new markets will begin to open up as pilot hydrogen projects come on line and the off-grid sector (mining and oil & gas) starts to invest in renewables.
“The Australian renewables sector has been through a bit of a quiet spell as few new projects have broken ground in recent months, but we expect the industry to bounce back in the second half of 2020. Projects with power purchase agreements (PPAs) and winners of government auction schemes and grants are scheduled to enter the construction phase, developers will be shifting to more favorable parts of the grid in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and projects are lining up in central and northern New South Wales to replace the coal-fired Liddell power plant that is due to close by April 2023,” says Gero Farruggio, Head of Australia at Rystad Energy.
This comes despite the fact that the number and capacity of new utility wind and solar projects that were set to start construction in the third and fourth quarters of 2019 were the lowest of any quarter in the last three years.
“There are now several projects at advanced stages of development with a total capacity of 3.76 GWac that have the potential to break ground in 2020, and most are located in desirable parts of the grid, being developed by experienced utility PV developers. New South Wales will be the most active region, with projects totaling 2.0 GWac located in the state,” says David Dixon, Senior Analyst Renewable Research at Rystad Enrgy.
Rystad Energy expects between 1.0 GWac and 1.5 GWac of new utility PV projects will break ground in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) in 2020. These projects will be located in southeast Queensland, central and northern New South Wales and central/eastern Victoria.
For utility wind there are currently projects representing 7.9 GWac that have received development approval. The lion’s share of that, representing about 5.3 GWac, stems from projects of more than 350 MWac, and located in favorable parts of the grid with owners that have development experience.
“The development pipeline is concentrated in New South Wales, which will be an attractive state for both wind and solar due to it being the highest-demand market in the NEM, along with the planned exit of the Liddell coal-fired power station and the relatively low penetration of renewables in the market at present,” Dixon concludes.
The country’s largest operational solar farms at present are Neoen’s Coleambally and BlackRock’s Daydream, each with a capacity of 150 MWac. Four utility PV projects, each with a capacity of 200 MWac or more, are set to complete commissioning this year: Darlington Point (275 MWac), Limondale (249 MWac), Kiamal Stage 1 (200 MWac) and Sunraysia (200 MWac). The capacity to come on line is geographically concentrated in New South Wales, with 51.5% – or 1.01 GWac – scheduled to start operation in the state.
Rystad Energy expects eight new Australian wind farms, with combined capacity of 1.57 GWac, to complete commissioning this year. Most notable is PARF’s 453-MWac Coopers Gap, which will become the largest operational wind farm in Australia and only the second large-scale operating wind farm in Queensland.
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