Electricity supply in Australia has long been dominated by coal and natural gas. Generators are aging and gas is becoming much more expensive due to a rapidly expanded gas export industry. Increasing renewable energy penetration is a natural choice for the country. Currently this stands at 15% of electricity supply with about 6% large hydro, 7.5% wind and solar (mainly rooftop PV) and 1.5% bioenergy. In South Australia (SA), however, the RE penetration is 44% on an annual basis (being mostly wind and rooftop solar) and is likely to reach 50% soon. This variable renewable generation is complemented by natural gas and an interconnector with neighbouring Victoria capable of supplying just 30% of peak demand. In the past year blackout and high price events in SA have wrongly been blamed solely on renewables by a hostile media and the conservative Federal Government. This has led to a very polarised and “blame laying” debate, particularly on the need to restrict the growth of renewable energy in Australia.
What is required is collaboration – and as Australia’s Chief Scientist has said – an independent look at how to provide a reliable, secure, affordable and low emission electricity supply for Australia. To discuss the issues and situation are three very knowledgeable and respected speakers,
- Hugh Saddler – Hon A/Prof, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy – “Transition from a National Electricity Market perspective”
- Tristan Edis – Green Energy Markets – “Political aspects of the energy transformation “
- Andrew Stock – Climate Council – “Situation in South Australia”
- Moderators – Ben Elliston, Senior Consultant at IT Power (Australia) and Monica Oliphant – Past President ISES and Adj A/Prof Uni SA