Australia must accelerate renewables deployment to avoid power shortage


Australia must accelerate renewables deployment to avoid power shortage


Blackouts could hit eastern Australia by the middle of this decade if renewable energy projects are not scaled up as the country rapidly shifts away from its reliance on coal-fired power plants, the energy market operator said on Tuesday.

According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), reliability gaps in energy transmission could occur in 2025 and then widen in 2027, when at least five coal power plants are scheduled to retire, reducing 13% of the NEM system.

The NEM operates across Australia except for the states of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

In its most recent power outlook update, AEMO removed its forecast for near-term electricity shortages in South Australia and Victoria, citing new gas, wind, and battery developments, as well as a delay in the retirement of a gas generator, but warned that reliability in eastern states remained at risk.

"Urgent and ongoing investment in renewable energy, long-duration storage and transmission is needed to reliably meet demand from Australian homes and businesses," AEMO Chief Executive Officer Daniel Westerman said in a statement.

Australia barely avoided blackouts in June 2022, when several coal-fired plants experienced unexpected outages and others reduced output due to coal shortages, while gas-fired generators faced increasing gas costs as a result of global disruptions.

Several projects, such as Australia's largest hydroelectric project, Snowy 2.0, are experiencing delays, which means they may not be finished in time to replace retiring plants.

Since the publication of the 2022 annual report on power transmission prospects in August, 1,326 MW of wind and 461 MW (604 MWh) of battery storage projects have been added to the national energy market.

But, without additional investment, the states of New South Wales and Victoria, which are home to more than half of Australia's 25 million inhabitants, may experience "reliability gaps" in power in 2026, AEMO added.









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