AEMO maps out path to 90 per cent renewables for Australia by 2040

The Australian Energy Market Operator is outlining plans to show how the country can reach 90 per cent renewables by 2040. A story by Giles Parkinson at reneweconomy.com.au

Australia will need at least 30GW of new wind and solar capacity to replace expected coal generator retirements over the next two decades, and could require up to 47GW of new capacity in the case of a “step change” scenario that takes serious action on climate change into account.

Those are the headline numbers from the draft Integrated System Plan unveiled on Thursday by the Australian Energy Market Operator – its effort to update its 20-year blueprint on how Australia’s grid could and should be managed under a range of different transition scenarios.

These scenarios range from “slow change” – which is consistent of a world controlled by fossil fuel interests and delivers a catastrophic rise in average temperatures – all the way through to “step change”, a new scenario developed by AEMO to consider what must be done to respect the scientific experts and try to keep average global warming as close as possible to 1.5°C.

In this scenario, AEMO outlines a plan to reach around 90 per cent renewables by 2040. The bulk of this generation comes from large-scale wind and solar, supported by distributed (mostly rooftop) solar, along with hydro power, and “dispatchable” technologies such as pumped hydro, big batteries, and household batteries aggregated in “virtual power plants”.

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