WWF-Australia has welcomed the release of a 20-year development plan for Australia’s electricity market but warned it doesn’t go far enough or fast enough to capitalise on the job creation and export opportunities of renewable energy.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) today published its 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP), which identifies the best development path for the National Electricity Market to both maximise consumer benefits and deliver $11 billion in net market benefits to 2040.
The ISP envisages a National Electricity Market that is significantly less reliant on coal-fired generation and dominated by renewable energy.
WWF-Australia’s Energy Transition Manager, Nicky Ison welcomed the plan saying: “The ISP gives us a roadmap to a brighter future. It's up to us to decide how fast we travel down that road.
“To unlock more jobs and seize our advantage in low-cost renewable energy, we need to build all energy infrastructure outlined in the ISP this decade.”
Ms Ison said ISP shows that renewables are Australia’s future, projecting a doubling or tripling in local renewables such as rooftop solar, 26GWs of new wind and solar, up to 15 GWs of new dispatchable energy and less gas generation.
“The current economic crisis in Australia presents an opportunity to accelerate the essential energy infrastructure outlined in the ISP – creating new jobs and unlocking new investment not just in transmission infrastructure but low-cost renewables,” said Ms Ison.
“The blueprint that the ISP presents – renewable energy zones, interconnectors, greater distributed energy such as solar and batteries, and system services - are critical not just to ensuring Australians have access to reliable, affordable and clean power, but to positioning Australia as a renewable export powerhouse.”
Already we are seeing states like Tasmania lead the way with its proposed 200% renewables target, that is starting to be reflected in the ISP.
Ms Ison said we must go even faster and further than the ISP outlines to unlock Australia’s renewable export potential.
“Few countries are as well placed to embrace the economic opportunities of acting on climate as Australia. Our abundant land, sunshine and wind makes our renewable power cheaper than most places around the world. By embracing renewable energy and storage, Australia can set up the next generation of opportunities in manufacturing and export, but only if we act now,” she said.
A report commissioned by WWF-Australia by consultancy EY shows a renewables-led economic recovery will create almost three times as many jobs as a fossil-fuel-led recovery.
The EY report identified "accelerating the development of renewable energy zones (REZs) and connecting the zones to the grid" as a key stimulus opportunity.