New report supports rapid acceleration towards renewables

Wind farm at sunset with transmission towers in the background (aemo report)
Image: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Transgrid has published its Transmission Annual Planning Report 2022 (TAPR), which supports calls for major transmission projects to be delivered faster and cheaper for consumers.

Transgrid CEO Brett Redman said, “We believe urgent action is needed to accelerate the timeline for when renewables can deliver affordable, low-cost reliable energy to homes and businesses. 

“We are leaning into the acceleration of the energy transition to ensure we keep the lights on, drive down wholesale electricity prices and reduce emissions,” he said.

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Transgrid’s report aligns with the Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP), which states investment in new transmission needs to begin ‘as urgently as possible’.

The earlier than anticipated exit of coal and the growing pipeline of renewables poised to come online suggests transition could happen even more rapidly than the latest ISP forecasts expect.

“There is no transition without transmission and that is why priority transmission projects must be progressed as urgently as possible because the energy transition is accelerating,” Redman said.

Transgrid is investigating integrating the HumeLink, EnergyConnect and VNI West projects into a single simultaneous program to deliver them earlier and cheaper, helping put downward pressure on customer bills.

“We must build now to facilitate the connection of new renewable generation and storage so we’re ready for the retirement of coal generation. The costs and risks of not acting are unacceptable for consumers,” he said.

The TAPR is the culmination of an annual planning review to identify transmission network developments, key demand growth areas and an assessment of system security.

For the first the time, Transgrid’s TAPR is projecting a shortfall of system strength and inertia to meet system requirements to happen in this decade, as coal-fired generation is retired or moves to more flexible operation. 

“Australia’s energy transition is happening right now. The electricity system is transitioning away from coal and towards renewables at a rapid rate, even faster than expected and we are responding to that reality,” Redman said.

“We must invest in new technologies and services to diversify the provision of system security and decouple these services from the operation of ageing thermal generation units, which are becoming less reliable and available.

“This is the critical decade and the expansion of our grid is essential to underwrite energy security, especially as coal-fired generators become unreliable and retire.

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“The recent energy market crisis demonstrated the current system’s lack of resilience and the high consumer cost of disruption. These risks will continue until we have a strong, flexible electricity network capable of safely delivering high volumes of renewable energy.

“As the operator of Australia’s most important transmission network, we are responding to and supporting the NSW Roadmap and the Australian Government’s Rewiring the Nation policy. 

Transgrid is committed to work with AEMO, the NSW Government and EnergyCo to accelerate the grid’s successful transition. Together, we must bring forward delivery schedules and drive innovation at pace,” he said.

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