CEC: ESOO report illustrates critical role of renewables

Solar panels in front of wind turbines (ESOO)

The Clean Energy Council says the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) 2021 Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) illustrates the critical role that new renewable energy and energy storage projects are playing in replacing ageing coal and delivering a reliable energy system for Australia. 

The ESOO notes that no reliability gaps are forecast for the next five years, with more than 4.4GW of renewable energy, battery storage and transmission investment available to the grid, and that rooftop solar alone could supply up to 77 per cent of total electricity demand at times by 2026. 

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“This is the time to bring more capacity online faster to alleviate concerns around reliability. There is also a need to accelerate reform on distributed energy resources to better leverage the sophisticated technology in rooftop solar and household batteries,” Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said.

“Clean energy investors have recognised the change taking place, and this year alone have backed 650MW of large-scale batteries—an annual increase of more than 400 per cent.”

AEMO notes that long-term risks in energy supply relate to the increasing vulnerability and reduced reliability of coal generation. The Clean Energy Council says this highlights the need for the Federal Government to coordinate a planned and orderly transition for the affected communities.

“The ESOO shows that the best way to manage the declining reliability of the ageing coal fleet and scheduled plant closures is through timely investment in transmission, renewable energy generation and storage.”

Thornton said that with several of Australia’s ageing fossil fuel generators due to retire in coming years, this is a critical decade as we work towards a diversified economy that runs off clean, low-cost renewable energy and reducing emissions.

“Government has a clear role to play in ensuring that the transition is orderly, maintains energy security, avoids price spikes that have followed past closures, looks after affected workers and communities, and ensures Australia meets its emissions reduction commitments.”

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This report highlights the importance of continued strong investment signals to ensure this new renewable energy and energy storage continues to come online.

“The recent reforms from the Energy Security Board (ESB) in relation to system services will help to enhance that investment signal, while the proposal for a capacity market could undermine investment confidence and appear further unjustified in light of the current reliability outlook,” Thornton said.