Back in May, I wrote a post about the wind and solar farms connecting to the electricity grid over the next twelve months. With the release of AEMO’s latest generation information on July 22nd, I can provide an update on how things are going and compare what has changed since the previous release on May 1st.
And the news is not encouraging. Much like Agent Dale Cooper in the red room of Twin Peaks, not knowing when he’ll be allowed to leave and whether he’ll have to wait two minutes or 25 years, completed wind and solar farms continue to be stuck indefinitely in the waiting room of the electricity grid in record numbers.
Since May 1, just one solar farm has entered full service. This is despite 14 wind and solar farms originally being scheduled to enter full service by the end of July.
Table 1. Just one solar or wind farm has entered service since May 1.
|State||Wind and solar projects||Size (MW)|
The connection dates for many projects have been delayed even further since May. The full commercial use dates for 18 wind and solar projects have been pushed back, a clear sign that AEMO is still struggling to deliver timely connections. Ten of these projects have been hit by comparatively minor delays of one to two months, albeit these delays add to existing delays of months or even years.
Eight projects face more severe delays:
- The Bungala 2 solar farm and Murra Warra stage one wind farm have been delayed by three months, while the Goonumbla, Kiamal stage one and Glenrowan West solar farms have all been delayed by four months.
- The Dundonnell wind farm in Victoria has been delayed by five months.
- The Yarranlea solar farm in Queensland has been delayed by six months.
- Worst of all, stage 2 of the Lincoln Gap wind farm in South Australia has been delayed a full 14 months. Instead of connecting next month, it will now have to wait until October next year.
To reiterate, almost all these projects have finished construction. The delays are overwhelmingly caused by strict new grid connection rules introduced by the operator of the electricity grid, AEMO.
There is a silver lining: the number of projects in commissioning (ie. in the process of connecting to the grid) has surged from nine to seventeen. Eleven of these projects are schedule to be online by the end of August. I am very skeptical AEMO will keep to this timetable but we live in hope.
AEMO has also provided full commercial use dates for six new wind and solar projects. These are outlined in the table below. One of these projects, the Silverton wind farm in New South Wales, had actually been classified as ‘in service’ until the latest update, when its status reverted to ‘in commissioning’ (it seems that the previous ‘in service’ listing was an error as it has been reported that the project had faced connection issues for the last two years).
Table 2. Full commercial use dates for six new wind and solar projects have been revealed in the latest Generation Information update.
|State||Wind and solar projects||Full commercial use date||Size (MW)|
|NSW||Bango 973 wind||Apr-21||159|
The delays to wind and solar farm connections are endangering the future of renewable energy development in Australia, probably more than any other factor. As RenewEconomy has reported extensively, many of the biggest wind and solar farm developers have abandoned Australia over the last 18 months after making huge losses on projects that have completed construction but are unable to connect to the grid.
The next AEMO update – probably at the end of September or October – should provide a clearer picture of whether AEMO are actually getting on top of the connection process, or if the seemingly never-ending commissioning delays will continue to slowly suffocate the renewable energy industry.
Table 3. Month of estimated full commercial operation of new wind and solar projects, as of July 22.
|State||Wind and solar projects||Full commercial |
|VIC||Cherry Tree wind||Jul-20||58|
|QLD||Coopers Gap wind||Jul-20||453|
|SA||Bungala 2 solar||Aug-20||135|
|VIC||Murra Warra Stage 1 wind||Aug-20||226|
|TAS||Cattle Hill wind||Aug-20||144|
|SA||Lincoln Gap wind stage 1||Aug-20||126|
|VIC||Mortlake South wind||Aug-20||158|
|NSW||Darlington Point solar||Sep-20||275|
|TAS||Granville Harbour wind||Sep-20||112|
|VIC||Kiamal Stage 1 solar||Nov-20||200|
|QLD||Oakey 2 solar||Nov-20||56|
|NSW||Limondale solar 1||Nov-20||220|
|VIC||Stockyard Hill wind||Dec-20||532|
|VIC||Bulgana Green Power Hub wind||Dec-20||194|
|VIC||Glenrowan West solar||Apr-21||106|
|NSW||Crudine Ridge wind||Apr-21||135|
|NSW||Bango 973 wind||Apr-21||159|
|SA||Lincoln Gap wind stage 2||Oct-21||86|
|Total: 45 projects||6,736|
Note: This table includes the Mortlake South wind farm and the Broadsound solar farm, which are technically classified as emerging and maturing projects rather than committed projects. But both projects are expected to have full commercial use by the end of this year so I have included them in this post. Queensland is also home to the committed Hughenden solar farm but a full commercial use date is not provided and as such, it is not included in this post.
The data in this post was sourced from AEMO’s Generation Information July 2020. This is the one-stop shop for information on power stations in the National Electricity Market and is updated every few months.
* The Silverton wind farm was previously classified as ‘in service’. See note in text.