Australia cannot afford the shift to clean energy to falter and must put infrastructure in place urgently to ensure an orderly transition, according to network operator Transgrid’s Transmission Annual Planning Report (TAPR) 2023.
Transgrid’s TAPR 2023 finds additional capacity and network system security must be ready as early as possible to prepare for the expected retirement of large coal-fired power stations from the NSW power system.
Transgrid CEO Brett Redman said, “Transgrid shares the bold ambition of the NSW and Federal governments to deliver a clean, sustainable, and reliable energy future for millions of consumers.
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“Executing our shared vision requires the urgent supply of new renewables and innovative storage solutions to replace coal. Time is of the essence because the transition is coming in at high velocity.
“As coal is retired, the NSW network as it currently stands will soon no longer have sufficient reserve levels. If we do not have additional capacity in place, the grid may lack sufficient reserves or generation to meet demand. This will make it increasingly difficult to deliver reliable energy to consumers.
“To realise the vision for a clean energy future, we cannot slow the transmission build. If anything, we need to accelerate even more. This TAPR shows how we will continue to facilitate the transmission build required to deliver Australia’s net zero targets and keep the lights on.
“Every dollar spent on transmission is projected to return more than twice this in benefits to customers. Transmission enables cheap, renewable electricity to flow to consumers,” Redman said.
The new energy superhighway will enable integration of over 17GW of new large scale renewable generation and storage capacity including five renewable energy zones, while assuring the power system remains secure and operationally sound.
One of Transgrid’s acceleration initiatives is to roll the three projects that make up the southern end of the NSW energy superhighway—EnergyConnect, HumeLink and VNI West— into a single procurement program, shaving up to two years off delivery.
As well as facilitating the transmission build, Transgrid is harnessing a diverse range of non-network solutions, including emerging technologies such as innovative grid-forming batteries to keep the power system’s heartbeat strong without thermal generation.
TAPR 2023 also explains how delivering a secure energy service also depends on having the right skills and tools to manage a complex energy system operating at up to 100% instantaneous renewable energy.
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“We must invest in real-time monitoring, power system modelling and control room technologies and training to ensure operational staff have the capabilities to maintain secure operation of the power system during Australia’s energy transition and beyond,” Redman said.
The report also highlights Transgrid’s thinking beyond 2033 when the renewable power system may need to expand by up to three to five times to support economy-wide decarbonation.
“This future thinking, which includes ideas for offshore wind and remote inland renewable energy zones, is important. The decisions we make now can keep our options open for future development—or narrow the field of possibilities. Transgrid is committed to positioning Australia as competitively as possible to succeed in a decarbonised global economy,” he said.