EnergyAustralia, one of the country’s leading energy retailers, today announced it had completed its previously announced program to underpin development of 500 megawatts (MW) of new wind and solar power and would now focus on projects to integrate renewables into the national electricity market.
EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna said a new, modern energy system was taking shape in Australia as a host of new technologies and approaches emerged to replace old coal plants.
“We now have most of the puzzle pieces: solar, wind, demand response, pumped hydro, battery storage and intelligent energy management systems, supported by gas-fired generation,” Ms Tanna said. “The challenge is planning; getting the right balance and mix for a modern energy system – and doing it at least cost.
“Renewable energy is an obvious contributor to filling the gap left by the retirement of coal plants but we need solutions for cloudy and windless days. With our renewables program wrapping up, EnergyAustralia’s next step is bringing to life projects that help provide the stability the system needs to deliver reliable, affordable and cleaner energy for customers, wherever they are.”
EnergyAustralia has a portfolio of potential projects including pumped hydro, energy recovery and commercial-scale batteries. It has permits for 1000 MW of new gas-fired capacity at Tallawarra near Wollongong and Marulan near Goulburn, as well as additional gas-generation investment opportunities in Victoria.
In aggregate the projects could require significant capital investment. However, Ms Tanna cautioned that much work was needed to make the projects decision-ready and not all would proceed.
The industry still had enough time to replace the generation that will be lost when the 2000 MW-capacity Liddell power station in New South Wales closes in 2022 - but decision time was fast approaching. Construction of new gas-fired peaking and intermediate plants could take three years, or more.
“As a retailer and generator of electricity our job is to make investments to deliver a stable system that meets the needs of our customers. Stable policy frameworks underpin investments,” Ms Tanna said. “And strong, sustainable companies with the confidence to invest make for a strong, reliable energy system. But the longer we wait, the harder a fix becomes. Every day counts.”
Under the Renewable Energy Target, EnergyAustralia has since December 2016 entered agreements supporting development of 500 MW of new wind and solar projects in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
While the company was exploring one or two smaller additional opportunities, its renewables program was now materially complete. The new wind and solar plants are due to be commissioned progressively from the middle of 2018.
With these agreements, EnergyAustralia has now supported more than 1000 MW of renewable generation.