AEMO to Include Rapid Transition to Renewables in its Next Integrated System Plan

As part of its next Integrated System Plan, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) will include modelling for a rapid transition to renewables, a faster exit from generating coal, and a zero-emissions grid.
The said changes, referred to as a ”step change” scenario, has been decided by AEMO through various workshops and consultations with the industry members. They discussed and shared inputs on what should be added in its next ISPas a 20-year master plan for the electricity grid.
Renew Economy also reported that the call for a quicker switch to renewables comes from fossil fuel generators and utilities. According to the article, the generators admit that the present blueprint does not take into account climate change and the actuality of the country’s old coal fleet.
The Australian Energy Council stated in its submission, ”AEMO should contemplate a national CO2 emissions budget for all economic sectors and include a scenario where the electricity sector delivers deeper cuts than currently contemplated.”
Together with the other generators, AEC explained that the existing blueprint assumes that all coal generators ”survive to the end of their nominated 50-year life.” This would not happen due to the cost of maintenance and the competition from less expensive wind and solar storage.
According to Transgrid, wind and solar are the least expensive alternatives to displace ageing coal plants. Also, the required level of storage is lower than most people think.
Transgrid, which runs the major transmission link from Queensland to Victoria, states, ”Large scale wind and solar can supply energy with a lower levelised cost than new coal and gas-fired power stations in the timeframe required by the anticipated retirement of existing coal-fired generation.”
Almost all the submissions called on AEMO’s next ISP to consider the real target of the Paris Climate Pact, which aims to limit average global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius and even a slow as 1.5 degrees Celsius, suggesting a zero carbon grid by 2050 at the latest.
Dylan McConnell from the Climate and Energy College stated in his submission that the electricity grid of Australia would emit twice its Paris Climate ”budget allocation” under the two emission scenarios that were identified previously.
He wrote, ”Expressed differently, the emissions budget for the NEM would be exhausted by 2028 or 2031 in the two scenarios, respectively. This approach amounts to planning for failure to meet our Paris commitments.”
AEMO is set to announce which scenarios it will model on May 16.
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