October 31, 2018 Read More →

New South Wales government plans for end of coal generation

Renew Economy:

The New South Wales Coalition government on Wednesday launched one of the most significant energy transition projects in Australia, with an Emerging Energy Program that is designed to help replace most of the state’s ageing coal plants with wind, solar and storage over the next 15 years.

NSW is the only state in the National Electricity Market without a specific or aspirational renewable energy target. But in its recent Integrated System Plan, the Australian Energy Market Operator highlighted the fact that the state was facing the biggest transition, because most of its 10GW of coal-fired generators were getting to the end of their life. Within 15 years, AEMO predicts, 70 per cent of that coal capacity will be gone – and it expects this to be replaced by large-scale solar, large-scale wind, storage, and rooftop solar, with the share of gas and hydro little changed from today’s level.

The NSW Emerging Energy Plan is designed to support the commercialisation of new large-scale projects in NSW that use emerging, dispatchable technology. It is offering up to $10 million per project, for a total of $55 million. But it is not the scale of the initiative that is significant, it is the acceptance that the energy transition is profound, rapid and unstoppable.

“We are not seeking to accelerate the closure of coal-fired generators or delay their closure,” energy minister Don Harwin told RenewEconomy. “The transition is happening, this helps prepare us.”

An emissions intensity cap of 0.5 tonnes of Co2-e has been placed on any projects. This effectively rules out coal – as the idea of “clean coal” is nothing but a marketing term. It may allow for some form of gas generation, but such projects may struggle to compete with the falling cost of wind and solar and storage. It specifically rules out upgrades and extensions of existing plant.

“The NSW energy system is in transition,” the document says. “Our generation mix is changing, with more variable generation entering the system and older power stations scheduled for retirement.” It notes that more than 17GW, or $21 billion, of projects for wind, solar, gas and generator upgrades are seeking planning approval in the state. Harwin said most of this was wind and solar, and the cost reduction of these technologies was “staggering.”

More: NSW launches emerging energy program to replace coal generation

 

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