Powering up Australia

Why we are talking about 100 per cent renewables when Australia has the opportunity to be an Industrialised Clean Super Power generating more than 500 per cent renewables, asks Oliver Yates.

 “Australia stands in front of a nation changing opportunity. We have the chance to build a strong industrialised exporting country harnessing the global competitive advantage we have resulting from the low cost of renewable power from the natural resources of wind and solar that we are blessed with.

“For years now, our power system has suffered from what many regard as visionless planning at a Federal level aided by visionless authorities unprepared to establish an energy system designed for the change the science of climate change requires. It is time this all changed.

The proposed Coordination of generation and transmission investment (COGATI) review completed in December 2018 and subsequent rules that seek to ‘ration’ transmissions are yet another example of the regulator failing to understand that additional transmission investment is vital.

“Given the lack of federal leadership in the energy industry now and on the horizon, it is time States locked on to the opportunity to take the lead and set out to establish industrial zones powered with long term Power Purchase Agreements from renewable energy generators,” he says. 

“States need to take the next step in the PPA revolution and sign up power contracts for strategic industrial zones, so they can attract global industrial partners with long term clean power price certainty. We need to expand transmission rapidly, not ration it, as Australia will need to move power across the nation at unprecedented scale.”

Any idea that Australia will be just 100 per cent renewable is now laughable, says Oliver Yates who is spending considerable time working in the green ammonia space with the prospect of replacing Australia’s imported ammonia with domestically produced ammonia using renewable energy. 

Just replacing our imports will require the construction of 2.3GW of additional renewable projects, says the man who helped drive extraordinary investment in the renewables sector while at the helm of the CEFC.

If we replaced current domestically produced ammonia, which is a major emission contributor typically produced using natural gas, we will need 12 GW more. All that additional generation must be built before we start to consider exports and given as a nation we are only at about 30 per cent renewables the idea that rationing transmission makes sense is nonsensical.

We certainly need to aspire to greater heights, he says outlining the thirst for renewable energy imports in Japan and other parts of Asia, and listing locations for deep-sea ports in all states of Australia: from Cap Hardy in South Australia to Townsville and Gladstone in Queensland and across to Port Headland in Western Australia.

“Today new industrial facilities can be built to manage the variability of renewable energy. Most will have demand management feature, storage and product buffering/batching to allow then to manage variable renewable energy supply,” he says.

Australia can be “Industrialised and Exporting” with the support of both environmental groups and industry but we need to act and grasp the opportunity.

Let’s build our economy, our jobs and value add to our minerals and our renewable power here. It is both sensible due to the efficiencies gained and environmentally sound.

Read more in Summer Smart Energy magazine.