South Australia quietly hit a major milestone this month, becoming the first major jurisdiction in the world to get all of its electricity from solar power. It’s a huge achievement, but also one that lasted for all of an hour.
The ABC reports that for just over 60 minutes on at midday on October 11, 100% of the state’s electricity demand came from solar panels. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which helps manage the national electricity grid, said it was a world-first.
“Never before has a jurisdiction the size of South Australia been completely run be solar power, with consumers’ rooftop solar systems contributing 77%,” AEMO Managing Director Audrey Zibelman said in a statement.
While some of the electricity did come from huge solar farms, Zibelman said rooftop solar panels “dominated” the mix. Around 288,000 homes in South Australia (roughly a third) have rooftop solar panels at the moment.
The extra electricity generated by wind farms (which presumably kept on spinning) and gas power stations (which can’t be quickly switched off for just an hour) was either stored in reserves like the so-called Tesla big battery in Hornsdale, or exported to Victoria.
The state’s been on a roll, beating the previous record of 89% solar power that was set a month earlier on September 13.
Adding to the good news is the fact that more and more solar panels keep being installed across the state, so this probably won’t be the last time we see this kind of achievement.
“South Australia is experiencing a surge in rooftop solar installations,” Zibelman added.
“AEMO is forecasting an additional 36,000 new rooftop solar systems in the next 14 months, which will mean that South Australia’s grid will see zero demand as rooftop solar alone will be capable of meeting 100 per cent of demand.
“This is truly a phenomenon in the global energy landscape.”