Renewable target slowed by constraints: regulator

The pace of renewables growth in Australia is being slowed by delays in getting new generation connected and increased curtailment of existing generation due to grid constraints.

The Clean Energy Regulator’s (CER) December 2019 quarterly report has downgraded renewables output for 2020 to between 35,000 and 37,000 GWh as the pace of new renewable investment exceeds the capacity of the grid to manage it.

The report is likely to embolden plans by the Victorian Government to circumvent national regulatory tests for new transmission investment in order to deliver its ambitious renewable energy target of 50 per cent of generation by 2030.

“It is expected that the 2020 Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) of 33,000 GW hours (GWh) will be met in 2020,” the Report said. “The Clean Energy Regulator expects 35,000 to 37,000 GWh; this number has been revised down from previous estimates because of increasing lag time to connect new power stations plus increasing curtailment of generation owing to grid constraints.”

Large scale renewable generation peaked in 2019, with 4.1 GW of new wind and solar signed on to the grid over the year, up from the previous record year of 3.5GW set in 2018. Another 2.2 GW of distributed rooftop solar pushed the total renewable capacity added to 6.3 GW for the year.

NSW was the fastest growing state in the last quarter, resulting from three huge solar farms coming on line in the south west of the state.

A further 2 GW of large scale projects reached financial close in 2019, signalling continued investment at a slower pace in 2020.

Total electricity generated or displaced by RET incentivised renewables should increase from 44 TWh to 56 TWh in 2020.