NSW already seeing benefits of solar power31st Aug 2011
Solar power systems are on track to make a significant contribution to New South Wales' power capacity, delaying the need for additional base load electricity generation.
Base load power provides 24-hour support to eliminate shortfalls in energy capacity and is a key concern for states as growth increases the demand for electricity.
Previous predictions for when NSW would reach an energy shortfall have been reassessed in light of a number of factors that have increased capacity and eased demand - including solar panel installations.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has released its Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) report, which looks at the future of the country’s energy supply, demand and network infrastructure.
It aims to provide an overview of the current market, with a view to identifying emerging investment opportunities and assessing government policy developments and the economy over the next decade.
According to the report, NSW will reach a point where additional energy capacity is required in 2018-19.
This has changed since last year's prediction of a shortfall occurring in 2016-17, due to a decrease in maximum projected demand.
This is in stark contrast to the predictions of ex-premier Morris Iemma, who cited a potential shortfall in 2013-14 during the controversial push to sell off the power industry.
A total of 350 MW of solar power projects have been publicly announced in New South - including solar farms in Moree, Nyngan and Manildra.
Other interesting facts have surfaced in the report, including the rates of annual solar radiation that Australia experiences.
In any given year, enough solar rays fall upon the continent to power the entire nation 10,000 times over.
The data forms a strong case for further widespread adoption of solar technology, as Australia is in a unique position to benefit from the wealth of renewable energy supplied by the sun.
It is hoped that with more and more consumers installing solar power systems in the home, the total capacity of the state will be able to reach consumer demand.
Other states are yet to see an ease in demand, with Queensland nearing a capacity shortage by the end of 2014.
Victoria and South Australia have also seen the AEMO revise their shortfall dates to signal a need for greater capacity earlier than previously expected.
The ESOO report has also identified a wealth of investment in power generated from wind farms, as Australia looks to build infrastructure that will reduce the country's dependence on coal-fired power.
-Mike Peacock: Solar Correspondent