Australian Government commissions report on 100% renewable sceanario

The Australian Government has commissioned the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to model and produce a report on 100 per cent renewable energy scenarios for 2030 and 2050. AEMO will work in conjunction with an ROAM consulting and CSIRO, to produce a least-cost combination using data on renewable resources, storage technologies and demand-side response in combination with transmission modelling to produce the scenario for the National Electricity Market.

The modelling process will be made largely transparent, the data used in the model has been made freely available through the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s website. Consideration is also being given to making the models available upon the completion of the project in May 2013. What ever the rational behind this decision the transparency of the reporting system should address some of the previous attacks the Government has met when investing in Climate Change and Renewable energy strategies.

Although the model will essentially be created in a vacum, free from the influence of fossil fuels, the outcomes will provide interesting reading for the Government, Renewables and Energy sector. It will provide a roadmap to a clean energy future, showing where investment and policy needs to be focused. All of the findings will be the outcome of ‘optimisation algorithms’, looking for where and how much of the different technologies could be deployed to calculate the most cost effective outcome.

There are a number of assumptions that have been developed for the model, including the vacum infrastructure scenario, and the ‘magic wand’ assumption, that renewables appear overnight as opposed to a gradual development over a number of years. These assumptions mean that the results will have to be taken with a a pinch of salt, the estimated costs, although the least cost option, will in fact be lower than advised in the report due to existing fossil fuel infrastructure and the decreasing cost of renewable technology.

The commissioning of this project, although not unique in it’s focus, is none the less an important step towards a clean energy future and should provide some certainty to companies looking to invest in commercial scale solar. The findings of the model, and how they are applied to Climate Change and Renewables policy at a State and Federal level, have the potential to change the playing field in favour of the Renewables sector as long as they are communicated with the proper assumptions.

© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Rebecca Boyle