In Brief
South Australia's minimum power demand over the weekend was the lowest in history thanks to rooftop solar. The region set this record a single week after its last record low.

Rooftop Solar Could Create Zero Demand by 2027

The level of minimum power demand from South Australia’s grid hit a new record low — and it did so about a week after setting the previous low demand record, thanks to rooftop solar panels. On Sunday, September 17, only 587.8MW of power was drawn from the grid, beating the low mark of 786.42MW from the previous Sunday.

Additionally, where record low demand times in the past happened during the nighttime hours, these new records happened during the middle of the day despite higher overall energy consumption during those hours — as you’d expect with solar power.

Graph that shows South Australia's power usage for September 17, 2017, aided by rooftop solar.
Image Credit: Melbourne’s Climate and Energy College

According to Renew Economy, moderate early spring temperatures (therefore, fewer air conditioners running) coupled with a high rooftop solar output of more than 700MW account for the new record.

The new numbers indicate that 47.8% of South Australia’s demand for electricity is currently met by rooftop solar, up more than 10% in a single week. This is a regional best for South Australia, and probably beats any record set by any comparably-sized grid anywhere.

New Sources of Power

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) estimates a record low demand of 354MW by 2019, and a possible zero grid demand within ten years. Western Australia is on the same timetable.

As prices drop along with demand, AEMO officials are working to shift practices and thinking to match the new reality. For example, South Australia is one of the first areas to recognize the middle of the day as an off-peak time.

Other countries all over the world are setting and breaking their own records. The UK now generates almost one-third of its power from renewables. China has been generating power with renewables and making impressive strides all year.

While the US government is not supporting these kinds of sweeping initiatives, individual cities and states like California are crushing record after record. The trend isn’t going anywhere, and is the smarter long-term investment.