Renewables Provide Equal Energy Security as Coal: Report

A new report has emerged stating that renewables and batteries provide the same energy security as coal, suggesting that mainstream implementation of large-scale renewable energy may be closer than you think. 

The report from the Australia Institute says that considering the combination of renewables and batteries provides the same energy security as coal, rules should be changed to allow more renewables into the Australian grid. 

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As it stands, there are some restrictions on the amount of renewable energy that is allowed to power the grid. This is, according to energy operators, to ensure reliability and consistency in the Australian energy mix. 

Operators place limits on the share of renewable energy to control the voltage and ensure energy frequency remains within safe limits. 

Typically, the job of ensuring these remain within safe limits have been backed up by fossil fuel power generation like coal and natural gas. 

With the publication of the most recent report stating that renewable energy, combined with batteries can secure the grid as effectively as coal and gas, this could change Australia’s energy mix. 

“The business model underpinning coal and gas is collapsing before our eyes and the good news is that batteries and renewable energy are now able to step in and keep the grid secure,” Professor Bruce Mountain, an energy economist told The Guardian. 

“Renewables already create the cheapest electricity in the market and the last leg in the fossil fuel industry had to stand up was the security services they have historically provided,” Mountain said. 

“Now, we can see that even those services are being delivered in a more reliable and affordable way by renewable energy and that trend will only accelerate in the future.” 

Australia Institute Report Says Renewables & Batteries Provide Same Energy Security as Coal

Australian energy ministers are expected to finalise their ‘post-2025’ energy plans for Australia by June. 

Survey respondents published in the study found that 51% of Australians were in favour of paying for new batteries to provide grid stability, while 26% said they would prefer to pay for coal-fired generation. 

The Australia Institute says these responses provide anecdotal evidence of the fact that Australians are “ready for that transition to take place.” 

Head of Energy Policy and Regulation at the Australia Institute, Dan Cass has said that “as coal generators continue to lose money, they will make financial decisions that harm system security reducing maintenance or mothballing units.” 

Cass continued to explain that “coal power stations are closing and being replaced by clean energy, but there is no national plan for replacing the security services that are provided by coal. Batteries, renewables and demand response are being held back by barriers that prevent them from contributing to system security, despite their exceptional potential in this space.” 

“Batteries can deliver far more system security than a coal generator of the same power capacity,” Cass concluded. 

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) also released a report today saying that Australia’s gas supply should be secure until 2026, so long as pipeline expansion and developments go ahead. 

The forecast did, however, warn that there are supply risks for the south of Australia if the Port Kembla gas terminal is delayed, and demand in Victoria peaks in winter. 

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