Renewable energy on the rise: Solar output overtakes coal in Australian first

Rooftop solar with skyline in background

The combined output of large-scale and rooftop solar exceeded that of black and brown coal generation for the first time on Australia’s main grid on the weekend, with coal falling to an all-time low.

Solar output overtook coal at 12:35pm, delivering a combined 9,427MW of solar energy compared to the 9,315MW produced by coal. The outputs accounted for 41.2% and 41.1% of the total energy demand respectively.

The milestone comes as Australia embraces the move towards renewable energy, with over two million homes now featuring rooftop solar systems. Sunday also saw coal output fall to a record low, with a higher renewable energy generation allowing Aussies to rely less on fossil fuels.

With renewable energy generation so high, all states experienced negative pricing events. This occurs when energy generation greatly outweighs demand, and is particularly present in periods of high renewable energy generation (ie. strong sunlight for solar panels). The negative pricing occurs when customers are paid to store excess energy from the grid.

Wind and solar generation supplied around 100% of all local demand in South Australia for most of Sunday’s daylight hours, despite a number of local wind and solar farms switching off to avoid the negative pricing events.

While Tasmania is usually able to sustain itself on primarily renewable sources, the large renewable energy generation across the country allowed other states to rely on green power

Despite Australia lagging behind most other developed countries in terms of emissions and renewable energy uptake, green power has steadily been on the rise across our states and territories. The new milestone shows generation of renewable energy around the country is reaching all-time highs, while the reliance on coal is becoming less necessary.

How can I use renewable energy in my home?

A lot of renewable energy is sent back onto the grid, meaning you could be using energy sourced from renewable sources without even knowing it.

If you’re interested in sourcing your own renewable energy, however, you may want to consider a rooftop solar system. Once installed, they can save you money on your power bill while helping you source your own electricity.

If you’re not interested in getting solar panels on your roof but still want to support renewable energy, you can inquire with your energy provider about a green power plan. These plans allow you to sponsor a percentage of your energy usage, which your energy provider then feeds back onto the grid via renewable sources. This option may suit those who aren’t confident in the reliability of using green energy sources in their own home, but still want to support the clean energy transition.

Looking to find and compare energy plans in your area? Head over to our energy hub for everything you need to know. To learn more about green power, have a read of our renewable energy FAQs.

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