Our Executive for Energy Mark Collette outlines the ongoing role for gas in the energy mix at the Australian Gas Domestic Outlook Conference:
Today, gas in today's energy market is a cheap form of insurance - it's fast-start and available when you need it.
Here’s an example: Average daily demand in New South Wales in 2018 was a little over 8,100 MW; on one of the very hot summer’s days we had in January, maximum demand in the state was more than 13,800 MW.
The gap is equivalent to the capacity of four power stations the size of our Mt Piper plant near Lithgow in New South Wales.
That means to meet demand, there’s a lot of generation needed to be called into service in a short time, sometimes with as little as one hour’s notice.
Battery storage can help, but it’s good for maybe 50-80 MW for an hour or two. Pumped hydro can get us through the day.
But customers need a system that’s robust and reliable, and for that we need fast-start capacity that can operate for days, if needed.
In January we ran our Newport power station for 132 hours straight. Consider how many batteries you'd have to run to get that same result.
A gas turbine can spin faster or slower depending on market conditions - that's really valuable in our physical market.
Today, the wholesale electricity market is finely balanced. On high demand days we need operating almost every generation unit in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Gas generation is an important jigsaw piece alongside a mix of other technologies that together provide resilience to Australia's energy system
We see a critical role for gas stabilising the market as more intermittent power – renewables – enter the system as dispatchable power – coal-fired generation – is retired.
That’s why EnergyAustralia is assessing gas projects at Tallawarra B and Marulan in New South Wales. We think Tallawarra B in particular is one of the best projects on the table in the state.
In the future our energy system will have more moving parts; renewables, pumped hydro, commercial-scale battery storage, solar PV and energy recovery.
If the aim is combining those parts into a seamless whole, one that delivers affordable, reliable and cleaner power, then gas is part of the mix.