Trying to resist the global transition to renewable energy-based grids is like trying to stop the internet, the chief of the Australian Energy Market Operator has warned.
In an interview with RenewEconomy, AEMO CEO Audrey Zibelman said Australia would be a world leader in the transition to a cheaper, smarter, cleaner and more reliable grid, combining renewables, balancing technologies and some” baseload” capacity – but not necessarily coal.
“(When) people think baseload, they think coal,” Zibelman says. “(Baseload) is not any particular fuel source, it is just the capability to run flat out, in an efficient way over a long period of time. And they are dependable.”
But Zibelman says much of the future focus will be on fast-reacting “dispatchable” options that can balance sources like wind and solar, which will inevitably dominate the grid.
“We will lead around how to use those resources, and how we make this transition,” she said. “This is not a judgement about anything. It’s just the reality that the economics have changed, and technology has changed, and resisting this change is a little like trying to resist the internet. It’s just going to happen because of where technology is going.”
Zibelman is also a fan of demand response, and admits to some frustration about how this mechanism has been treated by the media.
“People thought that we would be going around asking people to turn off their lights,” Zibelman says. “What we are really talking about is managing machines better … if we can do these things in concert we can manage the grid and make it more efficient.
“The technologies that we are seeing in South Australia and Victoria are what are going to start setting the transformation that people are talking about in this industry,” she said.