Australia's energy networks must modernise, industry says
Australia’s energy networks’ role in securing a more reliable, affordable and stable energy system has never been more critical, according to Energy Networks Australia CEO Andrew Dillon.
Speaking at the Energy Networks 2018 conference in Sydney this morning, Dillon said the opportunities for network businesses and benefits to customers presented by the transformation and modernisation of the energy system are significant.
“Our generation sector has already started the transformation from a coal-based fleet to one powered primarily by renewables,” he said. “This must be accompanied by timely and strategic investment to better link electricity from renewable energy zones to our customers.
“We also have to look at complementary technologies to manage the transition. Recent developments, here and overseas, open up the exciting prospect of using electrolysis to convert excess renewable electricity into hydrogen and then store it in gas networks.
“Remarkably, our existing gas systems have a storage capacity that’s equivalent to 12 billion Tesla Powerwalls.”
Dillon said the network sector is changing dramatically and the evolution of home energy storage and generation requires a modernised platform that needs further development. He noted that Australians “love household solar like no other country” but that the grid can’t just absorb endless local generation electricity, as networks have limits.
“When these limits are reached, fuses may blow or systems overheat, causing reliability and safety issues,” he said. “Effective management or orchestration of these renewable sources is needed to support their safe and reliable integration into the grid and unlock the true value of household solar and storage.”
Work on this is currently underway and national guidelines for network businesses to support the fair and efficient connection of solar and batteries to the grid have also been released recently.
Dillon said another crucial area of reform is pricing structures, claiming the energy sector, government and regulators have a shared responsibility to ensure customers take advantage of the opportunities for integrating new technologies in ways that lead to reduced costs for all consumers.
“Our current pricing structures are fundamentally unfair and in desperate need of reform,” he said. We need governments to step up and work with us to deliver this.
“We have to innovate and collaborate to deliver the services our customers want and need today — and into the future.”
Energy Networks 2018: Vision Critical will run until 7 June at ICC Sydney. For more information, visit www.energynetworks2018.com.au/.
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