Prepare for an energy revolution, Australia

Tuesday, 04 June, 2019

Prepare for an energy revolution, Australia

Australia’s energy mix is expected to undergo radical change. Spurred by innovative technologies and consumer demand, the energy sector of the future must consider technology, regulation, market structures and customer needs, and how these may evolve over time. Fiona Orton, Future Grid Manager at TransGrid, said that these considerations are critical to inform how we upgrade the grid to handle an increasingly complex energy mix.

“We are currently experiencing a once-in-a-generation transformation in the mix of power supplying Australian homes and businesses,” Orton said.

“Today, almost 90% of electricity generated in NSW comes from coal, but over the next 20 years, the majority of these power stations will reach the end of their technical lives and are likely to retire. We expect around 15–20 GW of wind and solar to be needed in NSW by 2040, in addition to significant storage and behind-the-meter distributed resources,” she said.

In the lead-up to her presentation at the 2019 Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition (AES), Orton explained that transmission — the underlying system connecting generators, storage sites and end users — will face challenges as generation centres shift and dependence on energy storage grows.

“While today’s generation is mostly located near coalfields, future generations will be clustered in regions with high-quality renewable energy resources,” she said. “This will require a reconfiguration of our electricity system, with transmission playing a vital role in connecting these new-generation sources in an orderly way.

“An integrated approach for the complete energy system will be required to successfully deliver the long-term energy transition,” Orton said. “This will require the connection of low-cost renewable energy generation ahead of anticipated coal retirements; the development of firm and dispatchable capacity to ensure reliability; the sharing of geographically diverse resources; and the development of new grid support services to manage system security and regulatory evolution.

“All parts of the energy supply chain must be involved, with the long-term interests of consumers always the central consideration,” she continued.

Also speaking at AES, new Member for Warringah Zali Steggall will discuss the future of energy storage.

“With so much renewable energy coming online in Australia, and both large- and small-scale batteries now starting to be installed alongside, it’s an exciting time to be in the space,” Steggall commented.

Steggall’s presentation will explore storage policy ideas and how her division intends to work constructively towards a better energy and climate future. Her talk will be complemented by presentations examining the regulatory climate around energy storage.

“I’m proud to say my own electorate, Warringah, has a dedicated group of energy developers who have contributed up to 1 GW of installed capacity already — yet challenges remain,” she said.

“A lack of targets for both storage and renewable energy to 2030, and no commitments for funding for ARENA or the CEFC, could create problems for the transition to the future, clean grid. If we want to keep the boom going, we need clear policy directions from our leaders.”

The 2019 Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition takes place on 13–14 June at the International Convention Centre in Sydney. For more information, visit

Image of Fiona Orton courtesy of Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition.

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