Renewables Could Power Australia by 2040; Save $11B

Renewables Could Power Australia by 2040 and Save $11 Billion

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has released a report stating that energy derived from renewables could power Australia by 2040 and save a total of $11 billion. 

The AEMO recently published its twenty-year forecast for the Australian energy market, and stated that electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric could provide the most reliable and affordable source of energy across Australia by 2040. 

The AEMO forecasts that by 2040, more than 60% of Australia’s coal-fired power plants will have been decommissioned. Also mentioned in the report is the fact that by the 2035 mark, the AEMO expects more than 90% of Australia’s power to be sourced from renewables. 

This would amount to savings of more than $11 billion in ‘net market benefits’ over the coming two-decades, according to the market operator. 

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Audrey Zibelman, Managing Director and CEO of the AEMO has said that “the ISP analysis confirms that as our coal plants retire, the least-cost transition of the NEM will be to a highly diverse portfolio consisting of distributed energy resources and variable renewable energy, supporting by multiple dispatchable resources.” 

“When implemented alongside market and regulatory reforms, the targeted transmission investments identified in the ISP will bring the right resources into the system in a timely fashion. This will create a modern, efficient and resilient energy system that delivers $11 billion in net market benefits weighted across the different ISP scenarios over the next two decades,” Zibelman continued to explain. 

The AEMO has also released a list of ‘actionable ISP projects’, which include: 

  • VNI Minor: a minor upgrade to the existing Victoria ‒ NSW Interconnector (VNI), which is close to completing its regulatory approval process, with project completion expected in 2022-23;
  • Project EnergyConnect: a new 330 kV double-circuit interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales, which is close to completing its regulatory approval process. The project completion is expected by 2024-25;
  • HumeLink: a 500 kV transmission upgrade to reinforce the NSW southern shared network and increase transfer capacity between the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme and the region’s demand centres. This project commenced its regulatory approval process earlier this year, with project completion due by 2025-26; and
  • Central-West Orana REZ Transmission Link: network augmentations to support the development of the Central-West Orana REZ. The project completion is due in 2024-25. 

“This forecast supports the case, being made by ACF and many others, for a clear economic recovery rather than backing the jobs-poor and polluting energy sources of the past,” Gavan McFadzean, manager of the ACF climate and energy told the ABC.

Greenpeace’s Australia-Pacific campaigner, Elizabeth Sullivan added that “gas is a polluting fossil fuel responsible for driving climate change. Further investment in gas only serves to lock in greenhouse gas emissions, increasing extreme weather events like this past bushfire season.” 

A spokesperson for the Federal Energy Minister, Angus Talor has said that while the government is supportive of new energy generation and storage projects, all investments in the grid must “make economic sense.” 

“The government also strongly believes gas will play an important role in balancing the [national energy market] and complement the record levels of renewable energy generation entering the market.” 

Renewables Could Power Australia by 2040 and Save $11 Billion

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