AEMO sets ambitious 100% renewables target for 2025

Wind farm at sunset (renewables target)
Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Australia’s energy market operator has set an ambitious renewables target for the country to surge ahead of the rest of the world with an electrical grid ready to handle 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

New AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman will use his first public address to outline the goal for a big increase in investment and collaboration to wean the power market further away from coal and prepare for a clean energy revolution.

Increased output from wind, large-scale and rooftop solar is complicating the grid operator’s job of supplying power to consumers, while the loss of the continuous power traditionally provided by coal and gas could pose risks to the reliability of the network.

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Mr Westerman said stronger transmission infrastructure, big batteries, pumped hydro and gas plants providing on-demand energy would be vital to ensuring a smooth transition. However, if successful, Mr Westerman says the east-coast electricity grid, which is usually powered 70 per cent by coal, should be able to handle a 100 per cent renewables target at a single moment in time by 2025.

“There are already points in time when renewable energy contributes to more than half of all electricity supply,” his drafted speech for today’s Committee for Economic Development of Australia event in Melbourne said.

“That puts us at the front of the pack for renewables penetration for any large grid in the world.”

Mr Westerman said the accelerating pace of change in Australia had prompted him to set the bold renewables target and seek to harness capabilities and experience across the industry through collaboration. He believes the push is necessary to cater for a rapid influx of wind and solar farms and rooftop solar panels nationwide as more coal-fired power stations close down.

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“This must be our goal not because of personal ambition, politics or ideology, but because we know this is where we’re headed,” he says.

Previously, the most ambitious forecast from the Australian Energy Market Operator stated that the grid may be able to cope with 75 per cent renewables by 2025.

The operator’s increasing ambition is at odds with the views of some sections of the LNP, with new deputy PM Barnaby Joyce pushing the case for public investment in low-emissions coal and nuclear power.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he wants to reach net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible and preferably by 2050, but is yet to commit to a deadline.