Source: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis
Western Australia’s Labor government says it is drawing up plans to facilitate the shift from coal to a grid dominated by renewables, and will develop a “whole of system” plan as well as a strategy to cope with the dramatic uptake of rooftop solar and battery storage. The plan was unveiled on Wednesday by energy minister Bill Johnston, who said technological change in the energy sector is happening at a rapid pace.
“In Western Australia, we’re blessed with world-class solar and wind resources, abundant gas supply, a wealth of battery metals, and a highly skilled workforce,” he said in a speech to the Institute of Energy. “We have a genuine opportunity to lead the way in establishing a cleaner, brighter and more resilient energy supply for decades to come. It’s clear that the generation mix will continue to change, so it’s important we have a whole of system approach to plan for the future. Put simply, advancement in technology means we can have reliable, affordable power, with lower emissions.”
The progress of renewable energy in W.A. has been hampered in recent years – first by the former Coalition government that engineered an investment drought, then also by restrictive grid access rules – but is showing signs of rapid growth now.
Three new solar farms have been added to the grid in the past year, and what will be the state’s two biggest wind farms, Warradarge and Yandin – both with capacity factors of 50 per cent or more – are now under construction.
More significantly, the uptake of rooftop solar continues to grow as consumers, both household and business, react to the unwinding of the huge state subsidies that hid the true cost of what was then an almost completely fossil-fuel powered grid. Rooftop solar now totals some 1,100MW, making it the state’s biggest generator. In a relatively small isolated grid, this is starting to pose challenges to the grid operator.