Australia’s renewable energy market is set for another record year in 2020 as Rystad Energy expects utility wind and solar PV projects totalling 3.6GW to complete commissioning, up from 2.6GW in 2019. The forecast comprises 1.96GW of utility PV projects and 1.57GW in wind developments, with the remaining 0.1GW coming from batteries. It is also likely new markets will begin to open up as pilot hydrogen projects come on line and the off-grid sector starts to invest in renewables, resources companies in particular.

“The Australian renewables sector has been through a bit of a quiet spell as few new projects have broken ground in recent months, but we expect the industry to bounce back in the second half of 2020,” says Gero Farruggio, head of Australia at Rystad Energy.

“Projects with power purchase agreements (PPAs) and winners of government auction schemes and grants are scheduled to enter the construction phase, developers will be shifting to more favorable parts of the grid in Victoria, NSW and Queensland, and projects are lining up in central and northern NSW to replace the coal-fired Liddell power plant that is due to close by April 2023.”

This comes despite the fact that the number and capacity of new utility wind and solar projects that were set to start construction in the third and fourth quarters of 2019 were the lowest of any quarter in the past three years.

“There are now several projects at advanced stages of development with a total capacity of 3.76GW that have the potential to break ground in 2020, and most are located in desirable parts of the grid, being developed by experienced utility PV developers. NSW will be the most active region, with projects totaling 2.0GW located in the state,” says David Dixon, senior analyst renewable research at Rystad Energy.

The analysts expect between 1.0GW and 1.5GW of new utility PV projects will break ground in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) in 2020, located in southeast Queensland, central and northern NSW and central and eastern Victoria.

About 7.9GW in wind projects have received development approval, including about 5.3GW of projects larger than 350MW and located in favorable parts of the grid with owners that have development experience.

The development pipeline is concentrated in NSW, the highest-demand market in the NEM with relatively low penetration of renewables.

Australia Utility PV, wind and battery projects to finish commissioning in 2020

Solar farms

The country’s largest operational solar farms at present are Neoen’s Coleambally and BlackRock’s Daydream, each with a capacity of 150MW. Four utility PV projects, each with a capacity of 200MW or more, are set to complete commissioning this year: Darlington Point (275MW), Limondale (249MW), Kiamal Stage 1 (200MW) and Sunraysia (200MW). The capacity to come on line is geographically concentrated in NSW, with 51.5% (or 1.01GW) scheduled to start operation in the state.

Wind farms

Rystad Energy expects eight new Australian wind farms, with combined capacity of 1.57GW, to complete commissioning this year. Most notable is PARF’s 453MW Coopers Gap, which will become the largest operational wind farm in Australia and only the second large-scale operating wind farm in Queensland.