Fossil fuels fall to record low in power grid as renewables hit new high, AEMO report shows


Fossil fuels fell to their lowest-ever levels in the electricity mix of Australia’s east coast in the last three months of 2022, as green power overtook black coal production for the first time in grid history.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) revealed in a new report on Wednesday that renewable energy generation hit an all-time high, supplying an average of 40 percent of the electricity grid in the December quarter, surpassing the previous record of 35 percent set in December. the same period of the previous year.

Coal, the dominant fuel in the East Coast power grid, has fallen to the lowest average power ever recorded.Credit:Eamon Gallagher

Until now, black coal – the fuel burned in the largest power stations in NSW and Queensland – has been the largest source of electricity from the national grid.

When black coal is counted with lignite, which is used in Victoria’s power stations, the fuel still provides the dominant part of the east coast’s electricity mix. However, large wind and solar farms coupled with Australians’ booming adoption of rooftop solar panels have radically reshaped the market, displacing fossil fuels.

The AEMO numbers show that both black and lignite have fallen to their lowest average shares since the establishment of the East Coast electricity market in 1998. Gas-fired power generation, meanwhile, fell to its lowest average quarterly return since 2004 amid low demand and historically high domestic gas prices.

Violette Mouchaileh, AEMO’s head of reform implementation, said output from large-scale wind and solar farms across the grid grew strongly during the quarter, generating 20 percent of total generation as more renewable energy projects came on stream and connected.

“This growth, along with the lowest coal-fired generation output… caused National Electricity Market emissions to fall to the lowest quarter on record at 26.4 million tons [of] carbon dioxide equivalent,” she said.

As renewable contribution records were broken and fossil fuels continued to decline, AEMO emphasized that coal and gas “both remain essential” for providing reliable electricity to homes and businesses.

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