The Australian National University has published a new study which shows that Australia can meet its 2030 carbon emissions target of reducing emissions by 26-28% by 2030 by replacing all coal-fired power stations with renewables at zero net cost.
The new study published this week by the Australian National University (ANU) explains that Australia is currently installing around 3 GW (gigawatts) worth of wind and solar PV each year, and concludes that if this rate continues then the country would meet more than half of its electricity consumption with renewable energy sources and would reach its Paris greenhouse gas emissions reduction target by 2030.
Further, because the cost of electricity from new-build wind and solar PV is below the cost of electricity from new-build coal generators, below the cost of electricity from existing gas generators, and below the wholesale price in the National Electricity Market (NEM), the end result is a net cost of zero for meeting Australia’s Paris carbon emissions targets.
“The cost of renewables includes stabilising the electricity grid with energy storage and stronger interstate powerlines to ensure that the grid continues to be reliable,” said Professor Andrew Blakers from the ANU Research School of Engineering. “As Australia grapples with the challenge of securing its energy supply into the future, our study shows that we can make the switch to affordable and reliable clean power.”
In addition to the wind and solar capacity to generate electricity, the ANU study includes in the cost of renewables the cost of hourly balancing of the grid to acquire the same reliability as is currently found in Australia’s energy mix. Hourly balancing of the grid will rely on pumped-hydro energy storage, stronger interstate high voltage power lines.
“This rate is sufficient, if continued until 2030, for renewable energy to meet more than half of Australia’s electricity consumption needs and Australia’s entire Paris greenhouse emissions reduction target,” added co-researcher Dr Matthew Stocks, a research fellow at the ANU Research School of Engineering. “The Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro energy storage project could provide half of the new energy storage required. The other half of the additional storage could come from more pumped hydro, batteries in houses and in electric cars, and improved demand management.”
The report comes at the same time that EY Global’s head of power and utility section, Serge Colle, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia might soon be one of the first countries to reach grid parity between renewable energy and electricity generated from fossil fuels: “As early as 2021, [globally] we reach what we call grid parity. With Australia, the expectation is that this will come one year earlier, as early as 2020,” Mr Colle said.