solar power

Australia adds 3GW of new capacity in 2022; to meet its renewable energy target, it needs double it

The Australian Energy Market Operator has released its most recent connections statistics, revealing that 2.9 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity was connected in 2022. It is a little increase over 2021 but with fewer and generally larger projects.

The 2.9GW total comprises newly connected projects. The majority of them are presumably not operating at full capacity as yet. The reason for that is that they still have to finish the sometimes-drawn-out commissioning process.
Australia toward achieving the renewable energy target

Suppose Australia is to have any chance of achieving the “step change” scenario stated in AEMO’s Integrated System Plan. In that case, it will need to double at least this rate of fresh wind and solar connections completed in the next eight years.

The federal Labor government has already adopted this aim as a de facto one, and the planning roadmap for future projects is an 81% proportion of renewable energy by 2030. Achieving this goal will require installing 48GW of additional capacity, or roughly 6GW each year. Rooftop solar is excluded from that.

Renewable energy target faces problems

Even with the current targets, the difficulty of the work, the labor and supply constraints, the uncertainty surrounding market regulations, and the requirement for new grid infrastructure, an even more rapid uptake will be necessary to be consistent with the 1.5° climate scenario. However, there are significant doubts surrounding the ability to achieve that.

The largest solar farm, wind farm, and hybrid facility in Australia were among the 23 projects that AEMO linked last year, totaling 2.9 gigawatts (up 137 megawatts from the 30 connected in 2021). The agency recognized this in a tweet on Monday.

Development differs depending on the region

It’s important to note that there was only one new large battery linkage to the nation’s main grid, the 10MW (and 20MWh) Queanbeyan battery constructed as part of the ACT’s 100% renewables strategy. In certain states, the number of new connections has slowed to a crawl, if not stopped altogether.

Tasmania, registered no new connections in 2022, while in South Australia, the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Hub, which included all 201 MW of wind and 99 MW of solar connected to the grid, was actually the only significant project. Also, there was a relocation of a gas plant.

Victoria connected 991 MW of brand-new capacity, all of which came from wind farms; there were no new solar farms. With 866MW, Queensland came in second, followed by just one wind project and mainly solar farms, including the largest in the nation at Western Downs (400MW).

NSW added 619 MW of new connections, including 10 MW of battery capacity in Queanbeyan and 4 MW of biomass, with no new wind farms and 605 MW of solar.