Australia has to look forward on energy, says Zibelman: “We have no choice”

Australia’s exit from from coal and transition to renewable energy is tracking faster than almost anyone has predicted, the manager of Australia’s National Electricity Market has warned.

“We have to look forward, we have no choice in Australia,” said Audrey Zibelman, the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator, at the Australian Energy Week 2019 conference in Melbourne last Wednesday.

This was particularly important at the consumer level, Zibelman said, as households and businesses adopted solar and battery storage at a break-neck speed, and in turn set the pace and the direction for the rest of the grid

“We talk about the (NEM becoming) decentralised, which is true .. and we’re seeing that in Australia at a very rapid pace. But the point is that for the first time in this industry, consumers have a real vote.

“It’s not just simply, do I want to pick this supplier or that supplier? It’s actually how much energy do I want to buy? Do I even want to buy it at all, or do I want to produce it myself? And that really needs to change the nature of how we in the industry think about consumers,” she said.

“The fact of the matter is, it’s happening really fast,” Zibelman said. “We have to assume that it’s going to be faster than we anticipate. At the same time, we need to make sure it’s an orderly transition.”