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EDITORIAL

Don’t throw away those candles

Some people favour rose-coloured glasses or believe in the power of wishful thinking when it comes to confronting looming problems.
Many politicians and their advisers fall into this category and proof of this lies in the historical record.
A classic example of the above proposition lies in the reality of the energy crisis in which a number of Australian states now find themselves.
The latest warning on the likely reliability of energy supply facing Victoria and NSW is both authoritative – and bleak.
Last week the peak body responsible for the way energy is provided in most states, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), released its latest forecasts on the demand conditions which would face several states in the 2019-20 summer period (AEMO’s definition of ‘summer’ is the period November to March).
AEMO conducts detailed and rigorous analysis of many factors affecting Australia’s energy demands and the available resources to meet those demands.
It maintains a rolling 10-year forecast to inform policy-makers, decision-makers, and investors about likely scenarios for the future.
The experience of recent years in how well power has been provided to Australian homes and industry is well-known to everyone.
AEMO has a deep understanding of the energy generation resources available – and coming available – in this country.
It is aware of the rate of growth of renewables, rooftop solar, wind, and stored hydro development.
And, of course, it knows how coal-based generation is ageing and declining.
It is also aware that “Summer 2019 was the warmest on record, with high demand in most regions of the NEM and record demand in Queensland.”
The prospects for consumers in Victoria and NSW look particularly problematic when it comes to reliability of supply.
Victoria, it seems faces the worst-case outlook with as many of one million households facing the likelihood of blackouts in peak periods during comings summers.
For NSW, the forecast predicts that up to 700,000 households could be at blackout risk in 2023-24 once the Liddell generator closes, unless contingency arrangements are in place.
AEMO recognises that some measures are in hand to produce more dispatchable power systems (coal, gas, battery and pumped hydro).
(The Snowy pumped hydro scheme is not due to come on line until 2025).
While proponents of alternative generation systems continue to confidently promise that some states will be “100 per cent renewable” by 2030 (some say as early as 2026) the outlook described by AEMO’s report suggests that the next five years or so could present challenges in ensuing that Australia can keep the lights (and air conditioners) on in very hot weather.
In the meantime, politicians in the Eastern states are continuing to issue assurances that they have everything under control.
The fact that Australia finds itself in a period where summer energy generation may not be up to meeting the demands during an evident trend to more extreme climatic events (including very hot days) stands as an indictment on those who have been responsible for policy and implementation of a capable and responsive energy generation and distribution network in this country.
The recent statement from AEMO says it all, really: ‘AEMO’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Audrey Zibelman said that the analysis ‘demonstrates the need for urgent action and prudent planning and investment in the sector to deliver affordable and reliable electricity supply to Australian consumers all year round, but particularly during the summer period.’

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Your Say

Don’t throw away those candles

Some people favour rose-coloured glasses or believe in the power of wishful thinking when it comes to confronting looming problems.
Many politicians and their advisers fall into this category and proof of this lies in the historical record.
A classic example of the above proposition lies in the reality of the energy crisis in which a number of Australian states now find themselves.
The latest warning on the likely reliability of energy supply facing Victoria and NSW is both authoritative – and bleak.
Last week the peak body responsible for the way energy is provided in most states, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), released its latest forecasts on the demand conditions which would face several states in the 2019-20 summer period (AEMO’s definition of ‘summer’ is the period November to March).
AEMO conducts detailed and rigorous analysis of many factors affecting Australia’s energy demands and the available resources to meet those demands.
It maintains a rolling 10-year forecast to inform policy-makers, decision-makers, and investors about likely scenarios for the future.
The experience of recent years in how well power has been provided to Australian homes and industry is well-known to everyone.
AEMO has a deep understanding of the energy generation resources available – and coming available – in this country.
It is aware of the rate of growth of renewables, rooftop solar, wind, and stored hydro development.
And, of course, it knows how coal-based generation is ageing and declining.
It is also aware that “Summer 2019 was the warmest on record, with high demand in most regions of the NEM and record demand in Queensland.”
The prospects for consumers in Victoria and NSW look particularly problematic when it comes to reliability of supply.
Victoria, it seems faces the worst-case outlook with as many of one million households facing the likelihood of blackouts in peak periods during comings summers.
For NSW, the forecast predicts that up to 700,000 households could be at blackout risk in 2023-24 once the Liddell generator closes, unless contingency arrangements are in place.
AEMO recognises that some measures are in hand to produce more dispatchable power systems (coal, gas, battery and pumped hydro).
(The Snowy pumped hydro scheme is not due to come on line until 2025).
While proponents of alternative generation systems continue to confidently promise that some states will be “100 per cent renewable” by 2030 (some say as early as 2026) the outlook described by AEMO’s report suggests that the next five years or so could present challenges in ensuing that Australia can keep the lights (and air conditioners) on in very hot weather.
In the meantime, politicians in the Eastern states are continuing to issue assurances that they have everything under control.
The fact that Australia finds itself in a period where summer energy generation may not be up to meeting the demands during an evident trend to more extreme climatic events (including very hot days) stands as an indictment on those who have been responsible for policy and implementation of a capable and responsive energy generation and distribution network in this country.
The recent statement from AEMO says it all, really: ‘AEMO’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Audrey Zibelman said that the analysis ‘demonstrates the need for urgent action and prudent planning and investment in the sector to deliver affordable and reliable electricity supply to Australian consumers all year round, but particularly during the summer period.’

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