RAA briefing note – Solar PV making a significant contribution

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Solar PV making a significant contribution

Victoria and South Australia have just gone through a week of very high temperatures and very high maximum electricity demand. There has been some debate as to what contribution if any solar PV has made. Our analysis shows that solar PV has made a significant contribution being responsible for reducing peak demand by 4.6 per cent.

According to electricity demand data published by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) the peak electricity demand occurred on Thursday 16th January during the half hour commencing 4.00 pm
in Victoria (10,240 MW) and during the half hour commencing 6.30 pm in South Australia (3,246 MW). South Australia and Victoria are interconnected so to properly assess the contribution of solar PV we
have considered electricity demand and PV contribution across both states.

The generation of electricity from solar at more than 350,000 homes and businesses in South Australia and Victoria is not visible to the electricity system and masks the level and timing of peak
demand. Solar PV is seen by the electricity market as a reduction in electricity use. As a result, AEMO’s data excludes it which has historically made it difficult to determine its contribution. The
Australian PV Institute (APVI) publishes PV generation based on the actual output of 1700 systems across Australia and then applies this to the total number of systems that are installed (refer to
http://pv-map.apvi.org.au). The output of solar PV systems tends to be highest around the middle of the day and starts to decline after 3.00 pm. Solar PV’s share of demand on Thursday 16th January is
summarised in the following chart.

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