Finally, Australia’s transition to renewable energy is going to have a plan: the Australian Energy Market Operator is laying out a detailed plan on how to almost completely decarbonise the Australian grid by 2050. And it is hugely significant.
Over the past 10 years, there have been numerous studies by numerous high profile industry and research organisations, showing Australia can reach 100 per cent renewables.
For the first time, this new work by AEMO – part of the updated Integrated System Plan to be finalised next year – is a roadmap of how to get there, including the infrastructure, rule changes and investment we will need.
And that is what makes AEMO’s work so important. This is no theoretical exercise. Governments might have given up on that idea, but thankfully not AEMO.
The so-called “step change” plan is one of five different scenarios to be modelled by AEMO in its forthcoming ISP, including one horror show scenario that assumes that we go even slower with the transition than we are now.
There is also a business as usual scenario, effectively based on the current policy settings at federal and state level. And another that models what happens if technology and economics lead the way.
But the step-change scenario is the only one that acknowledges both the science on climate change and what Australia and 193 other countries signed up to do in Paris – to keep global warming to well below 2°C and hopefully below 1.5°C.
It would, of course, need some additional policy mechanisms, but it doesn’t have to be a carbon price. It could be auctions, or mandates. That will be for future governments to decide.