Draft 2022 ISP highlights “unstoppable” renewables transition

Wind farm at sunset (Draft 2022 ISP)
Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

AEMO’s Draft 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) highlight Australia’s “unstoppable” path to a rapid transition to renewable energy, peak renewables body the Clean Energy Council.

The council says significant investment is required in the National Electricity Market (NEM) and network to make this transition happen safely and smoothly.

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“This Draft 2022 ISP is a call to arms that we must leave no stone unturned in getting the renewable energy transition done right and getting it done fast,” chief executive Kane Thornton said. 

“Already, we have seen the most ambitious, aggressive forecasts from the previous ISP becoming the base case. It’s happening now, and it’s happening fast. So, this is not about what we might achieve by 2050. The focus needs to be very much on what needs to be done this decade.” 

The Draft 2022 IPS highlights monumental numbers that highlight the magnitude of the transition to renewables under the “draft optimal development path”:

  • The amount of energy delivered to customers will nearly double by 2050, up from 180TWh to approximately 330TWh per year. If the ‘Hydrogen Superpower’ scenario were to emerge, energy consumption would quadruple to support a hydrogen export industry. 
  • This energy will be delivered almost solely by renewables. Large-scale wind and solar capacity is projected to triple by 2030.
  • Major investment in storage will be required, with 45GW/620GWh of storage needed in all its forms. 
  • AEMO expects that nearly half of all Australian homes will have rooftop PV by 2030, rising to 65 per cent with 69GW capacity by 2050, with most systems complemented by battery energy storage. Output from these units will meet nearly one-fifth of the NEM’s total demand. 

“Turning these projections into reality means governments around the country setting policies that deliver the scale of investment needed in renewable generation and storage, as well as transmission assets,” Thornton said. 

“AEMO has found that 10,000km of new transmission is needed to connect renewable generation to consumers.” 

Transmission investment brings major benefits, with AEMO estimating a net market benefit of $29 billion and returning 2.5 times its investment value. There are also benefits of moving early on transmission to help keep the system resilient to an uncertain future. However, it’s also important that communities are actively engaged in building these assets, with early community engagement needed to ensure investments have an appropriate social licence.

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Projections within the Draft 2022 ISP also highlight the steep increase in demand on skills and supply chains from construction over the next few years. 

“Competition for labour and materials, if not managed properly, can drive up the costs of projects and push out timing. Project sequencing to manage these risks will be important in maintaining regional community support,” Thornton said.