Energy 2029 focuses on WA’s stationary energy use and 3 different scenarios are presented for the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS) – which accounts for about half the State’s electricity consumption. – driven by rising fossil fuel costs and the now unmistakable impacts of the changing climate. Runaway advances in solar, wind and other clean energy technologies have caused costs to fall rapidly. The Greens believe Australia should invest in the next generation of clean, affordable energy infrastructure.
The costs of the three scenarios are outlined below and show the overall cost of a planned transition to renewable energy is similar to the cost of continuing with business as usual. costs are extremely conservative.
Scenario 1: Solar rich
Capital costs: $62 billion
Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) $221/ MWH
Scenario 1 places strong emphasis on large scale solar concentrator fields, with 40% of the mix provided from CST plants, like those proven already in Spain and the USA. The balance of power is provided by large scale wind generators, solar PV and a smaller number of biomass, wave, and geothermal generators. Back up electricity in the event of consecutive days of low wind and solar would be provided by biomass co-firing at the solar plants, pumped hydro storage, and a small number of mid-tier biomass plants.
This scenario includes substantial overbuild: 10,900 MW for 5,500 maximum demand – to cover periods of low wind and sun and the currently high cost of CST.
Scenario 2: Diverse mix
Capital costs: $56.9b
Scenario 2 maximises the use of the lowest-cost renewables, with wind (31%), Tracking Solar PV Farm (19%) and Roof-top PV (12%) providing the largest proportion of the mix. A combination of biomass and pumped hydro is used for backup.
This scenario also includes an ‘over-build’ of wind, solar CST and biomass, with a total of 10,800MW of generation to provide for a maximum peak of 5,500MW.
Scenario 3: Business as Usual
Capital costs: $20.6b*
The business as usual scenario assumes we replace and expand our existing fossil fuel plants, and use the same mix of coal and gas power generation at Collie and Kwinana, with a minor amount of wind. It also assumes a 47% increase in energy demand and no energy efficiency target, in line with current state government policy and projections.
*Note this figure is artificially low as it does not include
The other costs of business as usual
The costs of business as usual are actually artificially low because they have not taken into account a number of factors, including:
• Ongoing maintenance of existing fossil assets which currently costs WA approximately $1billion pa
• The carbon price
• The duplication of the Dampier to Bunbury Natural gas pipeline
• Rising fuel costs: oil and natural gas will continue to rise.
• The carbon budget: To meet the global challenge of preventing global warming of less than 2 degrees the scientific evidence shows a ‘carbon budget’ that means we must leave 80% of known fossil fuels unburnt
• Lost agricultural productivity due to unconventional gas fracking
• The unacceptable risks of fracking to our land and water, and the damaging impact on regional communities. 68% of Australians want a stop to coal seam gas until it has been proven to be safe for our environment and rural communities.
• The significant health costs of coal mining and air pollution which will only worsen
• Carbon capture and storage which, although is unproven technology that will never provide the scale or rapid rate of deployment needed, governments will continue to invest millions
• Subsidies for continued exploration, and rebates for fossil fuels used in mining
• The many associated costs of unmitigated climate change
Numerous government and independent reports show large scale renewable energy could replace our reliance on coal and gas fired power — and create more jobs.
If it can be done at the same cost, but with none of the risks or damaging impacts associated with a fossil future - then why are we waiting?
The introduction of the Clean Energy Act in 2011 — the same one Abbott wants to abolish — created a pool of funds to help build the next generation of large scale renewable power stations in Australia. Since July 1 2013 the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has commenced investing $2 billion in renewable energy projects.
The Australian Greens Clean Energy Roadmap initiative would increase CEFC funding from $10 billion to $30 billion over the next 10 years, and a national target of 90% renewable energy by 2030.
Meanwhile, Tony Abbott has attempted — and failed — to axe the CEFC altogether. Bizarrely, the CEFC would cost more to abolish than to keep — the loans it has made have achieved than $200 million return on investment to the taxpayer to date.