ANU renewable energy workshop: ‘bottlenecks’ prevent equal clean energy access

ANU study promotes pumped storage hydropower to seal Australia's renewable future.

Attendees at a recent Australian National University (ANU) renewable energy workshop say access to a clean energy network is essential for mitigating climate change.

The 50-strong group of energy experts also say Australia needs to do more to ensure everyone can connect to new distributed energy resources, like solar and wind.

It concluded that to meet emissions targets, federal and state governments need to make changes. These include:

  • Addressing emerging infrastructure bottlenecks;
  • Embarking on market reform; and
  • Improving the investment framework.
Clean energy access illustrated by man holding light bulb in the sky

Improving connectivity would help ensure all consumers have access to Australia’s clean energy system. Image: Pixabay

The three-day workshop was held to consider the transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy system. It also looked into how Australia will meet its climate goals.

The discussions covered global and domestic emissions, Australia’s renewable energy deployment and renewable technology futures. Topics also included management of intermittent wind and solar power and Australia’s transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Clean energy access denied to some consumers

The group found that while large-scale wind and solar installations have been growing rapidly, there are ‘bottlenecks’ in the system. These prevent consumers from gaining equal access to cleaner energy resources.

As a result, the group concluded Australia needs additional energy transmission, energy storage and demand-response systems. Energy market reform and a solid network are also required to keep up with the rapid pace of renewable energy deployment.

Another finding was that careful attention is required to ensure a smooth transition to 100 per cent renewables. This includes evaluating how the shift will affect coal industry workers and their communities, as well as consumers.

Connectivity a priority for renewable energy future

While increasing numbers of households now have rooftop solar power, energy connectivity remains a priority. A focus on connectivity will help ensure equal access to clean energy across all parts of Australia.

An example of how this could work is the proposed electricity interconnector between NSW and South Australia.

The interconnector would improve power sharing access across the two states. This would provide South Australia with greater access to surplus power and enable the state to attract more renewable energy investment.

NSW would benefit by gaining access to SA’s lower-cost renewables. The connection line would also help facilitate a smoother transition from coal to renewable energy – especially considering the imminent retirement of the NSW Liddell power station.

Infrastructure Australia (IA) also recently found that Australia needs a more efficient electricity network as renewables take over from fossil fuels.

IA’s recommendations include increasing transfer capacity between regions. It also recommends improving network access to renewable energy resources and energy storage.