AFR Energy and Climate Summit shows Australia’s energy transition is stumbling

An Energy and Climate Summit held by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) over the last two days has combined energy regulators, producers and users to discuss Australia’s progress in its energy transition to 82% renewables by 2030.

An Energy and Climate Summit held by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) over the last two days has combined energy regulators, producers and users to discuss Australia’s progress in its energy transition to 82% renewables by 2030.

It’s verdict: Australia has fallen well behind in its target.

The AFR Summit has found factors such as supply-side pandemic disruptions, Snowy Hydro 2.0 engineering mishaps and skilled labour shortages, as making the transition to clean, reliable and affordable power harder and more expensive to achieve.

Australia’s fossil-fuelled electricity grid is proving slower and more costly to decarbonise than expected, with reliability risks increasing as the exits of coal-fired power plants run ahead of cleaner and reliable replacement generation.

Australian Energy Market Operator boss, Daniel Westerman, has previously urged project developers to call on all available federal and state government subsidy schemes to make projects viable and get them into construction so that replacement generation is available before ageing coal plants close.

On Monday, the Clean Energy Council released its Power Playbook, a strategic package of 45 recommendations to the Federal Government designed to ensure Australia gets back on track for 82% renewables by 2030 and achieves its ambition of becoming a renewable energy superpower.

Key recommendations in the Power Playbook include a Clean Energy Transformation Investment Package to boost and retain Australia’s international competitiveness by $10 billion per annum for at least ten years, (or a minimum of $100 billion), full decarbonisation of the electricity sector by 2035 and a long-term national policy mechanism to drive increased and sustained investment in large-scale renewable energy projects.

In addition to the Power Playbook, the CSIRO also released its GenCost report for 2022-23.

The GenCost report is a collaboration between Australia’s national science agency and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to update the costs of electricity generation, energy storage and hydrogen production.

According to the CSIRO, low-emission electricity is key to Australia achieving its net zero emissions by 2050 goal given electricity generation accounts for about a third of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 2018, the GenCost report has shown wind and solar are the cheapest forms of newly built electricity generation.

To ensure Australia gets back on track for its 2030 renewables target clearly requires a big, unified team effort all moving in the same direction given the sheer scale and complexity of the task.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

 

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