All new Australian Power Plants to be Renewable through 2020

by Nicholas Brown.

According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), all new electricity generation capacity in Australia will be from renewable energy. It will mostly be from wind energy, while 13% of that is expected to be from large-scale solar PV, and 3% from biomass.

After years of hearing very little about Australia’s transition from fossil fuels, there has been Sydney’s plan to go 100% renewable by 2030 and a lot of big news in 2013. But the next several years will be even bigger.

According to an IEEE article about the coming growth of renewables in Australia: ”There are nearly 15 800 megawatts of proposed wind generation projects, according to the AEMO. More than 780 MW of the wind power is expected to come online in 2014-2015.”

Australian cumulative electrical power generation chart
Australian cumulative electrical power generation chart

This massive progress is partially caused by a nationwide carbon tax, which was instated in 2012. According to the IEEE article: ”By 2020, there could be 3700 MW less coal-fired generation, about 13 percent of the country’s total coal power production.”

<br />A wind farm in rural Australia via Shutterstock.
A wind farm in rural Australia. Image by Shutterstock

The dominance of wind generation in this forecast (compared to solar) is largely due to the fact that wind power is cheaper than solar power. It is good to see a decent mix of biomass as a part of this. Power plants fueled by biomass can back up solar arrays and wind farms while preventing methane from entering the atmosphere.

Methane is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and biomass power plants usually burn methane, resulting in the emission of the more benign carbon dioxide. This replacement of methane with CO2 has a positive environmental effect.

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This article, All New Australian Power Plants Will Be Renewable Through 2020, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Nicholas BrownNicholas Brown has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, geography, and much more. My website is: Kompulsa.com.

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100% of new Australian power plants are Wind or Solar

By Giles Parkinson  — Special to JBS News

This article originally published on RenewEconomy

The rapidly changing nature of Australia’s coal-fired electricity grid has been highlighted by a new report from the Australian Energy Market Operator, which reports that all new electricity generation proposals received in the last 12 months have been either for large scale wind farms or solar facilities.

In its annual assessment of Energy market opportunities (known in the industry as ESOO, or Electricity Statement of  Opportunities), AEMO notes the pivotal of renewable energy sources in the National Electricity Market, and in particular, the influence of rooftop solar.

In the past year, the building out of residential rooftop solar totaled 774MW across the NEM (which includes the eastern states and South Australia, but excludes WA, the Northern Territory, Mt Isa, and other isolated networks). Solar analysts expect a similar amount of rooftop solar to be installed in 2013/14, despite the removal of most subsidies.

This compares with 522.7MW of new large-scale generation that came online in 2012/13, most of which (439.5MW) came new wind energy facilities — including the 420MW Macarthur wind farm in Victoria), along with 60MW from a coal plant expansion and 39MW from two co-generation and landfill gas facilities.

Of the 1,000MW of new generation committed (but not yet completed) in the past 12 months, AEMO says that 945.5MW came from six new wind farm projects, and a further 45.5MW from new solar generation (including the Kogan Creek solar booster in Queensland) and the Mildura concentrated solar (CSP) demonstration plant in Victoria.

Over the same time frame, some 770MW of capacity at the Tarong black coal power plant in Queensland has been mothballed, as well as the 170MW Collinsville power station, which is trying to reinvent itself as a solar/gas hybrid plant. This adds to other retirements including the Playford B power station in Port Augusta and the seasonal retirement of the neighbouring Northern power station.

Indeed, AEMO confirmed that there was no need for any new thermal (fossil fuel) generation in Australia to be built for at least another decade – the one exception being under its medium growth rate scenario in Queensland, and for some modest requirements in other states in the high growth scenario.

It said this was because of the increase in rooftop solar PV, the reduction in demand caused by the consumer response to rising electricity prices, and the development of large-scale renewables under the Renewable Energy Target.

This fits with the recent assessment by AGL Energy that some 9,000MW of baseload generation was surplus to requirements because of reduced demand. That is equivalent to nearly one third of the entire baseload capacity within the NEM.

The latest AEMO assessment is sure to be seized upon by opponents of the RET as a reason to water it down, or remove it altogether. The opponents also claim that reducing the RET will ease pressure on consumers, but this is contradicted by AGL Energy, the Climate Change Authority, and more recent analyses by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Reputex.

One thing that everyone does agree on is that more renewables will reduce the revenues and profits of coal and gas-fired generators. It will even accelerate the closure and mothballing of some coal-fired generators.

About the Author

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia’s energy grid with great interest.
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