Australian Energy Market Operator releases roadmap to 100% renewables generation by 2025

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The 256MWp Kiamal Solar Farm (pictured) in the Australian state of Victoria. Image: Total Eren.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has released its roadmap to reaching 100% renewable generation in the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM) by 2025.

The roadmap is structured under three broad themes: power system security, system operability and resource adequacy and capability.  Each section comes with a set of preconditions that must be met in order to successfully transition the NEM to periods of 100% renewable power.

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In opening comments by AEMO CEO Daniel Westerman, the report’s target of 100% ‘instantaneous penetration’ of renewables generation was defined as a half-hour period in which the system runs entirely on renewable energy. The aim is to begin these periods in 2025, with increased frequency as system security and resources increase.

Westerman said: “Australia is transitioning from a historic dependency on coal generation to higher levels of renewable energy, supported by firming technologies, like pumped hydro, batteries and gas generation, and transmission developments to share low-cost sources of energy to our towns and cities.

“Complementing these investments is the shared responsibility to also re-engineer the power system to run reliably and securely on higher levels of renewable energy.

“Being ready to operate the power system with high penetration levels of renewables is critical to ensure a smooth energy transition, meet Australia’s emission reduction commitments and ensure reliable, secure and affordable energy for consumers into the future.”

AEMO highlighted the key role that energy storage will play in Australia’s energy transition, allowing for periodically unreliable solar and wind energy to be distributed when it’s needed.  

Within its report, the market operator listed improvements to transmission infrastructure, including an organised approach to resilience planning to control outages when new inputs and generation are being added to the grid, a new restart system that doesn’t require fossil fuel generation to be online prior to restarting and improved installation compliance of DPV inverters.

AEMO said that the model it will use on the NEM will provide learnings for Western Australia’s South West Interconnected System and Wholesale Electricity Market.

Australia has committed to the international 2050 net zero targets, as well as having 42% of its electricity generation fulfilled by renewables by 2030. A report by the universities of Melbourne, Queensland and Princeton said that Australia will need 1.9TW of solar if it is to meet its 2050 net zero target.

In October, the government unveiled a US$16 billion clean energy budget. Last month, the New South Wales government received 8GW of bids for renewable energy and storage projects.

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