Forget base-load. That seems to be the message from all the major utilities as they prepare for the accelerating shift to renewable energy and dispatchable generation.
In this latest episode of the Energy Insiders podcast, EnergyAustralia’s energy chief Mark Collette explains why wind and solar will replace coal as the “bedrock” of Australia’s electricity grid.
That does not mean that there will be no room for coal. The company’s Mt Piper coal plant has the ability to flex down to 150MW, which it will likely do during periods of high wind and solar output, and will flex back up to near its 600MW capacity during times of peak demand.
The outlook for brown coal is less good, as it does not have the same flexibility. And Collette says his company just cannot see how a new coal generator could be viable, given that any new investment would rely heavily on very high “capacity factors”, which would not be available in a high renewables grid.
Collette also talks about the company’s renewable investments, the two battery storage plants it has contracted in Victoria, and its enthusiasm for the sea-water based pumped hydro facility at Cultana in South Australia, which he reveals has undergone some design changes.
Collette also talks about the implications of the proposed new South-Australia transmission link, Snowy 2.0 and energy politics.
You can find this and other interviews – including with the other big three energy utilities – in our podcast section on this site and on your favourite podcast platform, along with episodes from Solar Insiders and our EV-focused podcast, The Driven.
See David Leitch’s analysis and report from the interview: EnergyAustralia juggles legacy coal assets and new storage as transition accelerates.