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Networks say new wind, solar project proposals still flooding in

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The renewable energy target – in the estimations of the Clean Energy Regulator, the federal government and independent analysts – may already be effectively met, but the number of wind and solar project proposals shows no sign of abating.

Spark Infrastructure, the company that owns a minority share of transmission company Transgrid, as well as larger shares of distribution networks in Victoria and South Australia, says there is a massive opportunity in wind and solar in coming decades.

Rick Francis, Spark’s CEO, said on Monday at a briefing for the company’s full year results that Transgrid alone had received 7 new inquires about new large scale wind and solar projects for New South Wales already in 2018.

This added to the 120 project enquiries received in 2017, of which more than 30 had firmed up and sought connection agreements. “The project pipeline continues to look strong,” Francis said.

Transgrid, which has said in the past it sees no technology hurdle to stop a shift to 100 per cent renewables, expects to connect tens of gigawatts of large scale solar and wind in the coming decades.

In NSW alone, some 10,000MW of new capacity will be needed to replace retiring coal generators, while it notes the Australian Energy Market Operator, in its System Integration Plan, canvasses the potential of 30GW (30,000MW) of new wind and solar capacity over the next 20 years out to 2037.

Francis said there were clear opportunities in building new network infrastructure to ensure that solar and wind capacity could be connected, and shared between state grids.

It has numerous proposals for new network infrastructure, including renewable energy zones in NSW, new connections to South Australia, and boosting poles and wires to accommodate the proposed Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme. That project alone could cost $1.3 billion.

Francis also spoke of the opportunities in creating virtual power plants, using batteries to avoid or defer network upgrades, and also the creation of “community micrograms”, where battery storage and solar become standard for new residential sub-divisions.

He also spoke of the potential to use demand response at a much greater level to help meet peak demand and also providing network services,

   

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  • Sir Pete o Possums Reek

    Does AEMO really claim there is 30MW of wind and solar … out to 2037 ?
    Either M should be G or a few 0’s are missing or they meant this winter or April or something .
    Though hey they are all busy talking importantly in the same storm water drain
    so, its possible they _could_ believe those figures … ;>

    • Barri Mundee

      I think you are correct, there are a few zeroes that should be there.

      • Joe

        Better get the Audrey onto this so that she can sort it.

      • Sir Pete o Possums Reek

        Thanks .
        I think that’s a relief đŸ™‚

  • George Darroch

    They seem excited by the prospect of new poles and wire.

    • Jonathan Prendergast

      Exactly what I was thinking

    • Electric Boogaloo

      That’d be because the regulatory regime guarantees profits on regulated assets. You borrow cheap money, build assets and get a guaranteed return.

      This is what “gold plating” has been in referral to… government-owned electricity companies with access to very cheap money gaming the system to build unnecessary assets to generate cashflow for their government owners. The problem is exacerbated because the regulator bases returns on the cost of capital for private borrowers, not the actual cost of capital for the asset owner.

      In Victoria and SA where the electricity grids were completely privatised, such gaming hasn’t gone on to the same extent.

      • stucrmnx120fshwf

        As regards the gold plating, rooftop solar, higher efficiency lighting, heating, cooking, screens, insulation, combined, as a perfect storm, of electricity demand reduction. Cheaper batteries, will make this even more so, virtual and community powerplants, so power companies must change their models. Offering deals, where they install solar, plus batteries and charge the customer over time, reducing their reliance, on retail power networks, for income. Instead as renewable energy becomes much cheaper, than carbon dioxide emissions power, they could expand the trunk line capacity, because more power, at a cheaper price per MWh, means more industrial demand.

        And they’d better get a move on, many of these industries, are starting to co locate their plants, by large renewables power plants, such as solar and wind turbine generators, with their own storage, such as batteries, or sea water pumped hydro power. Or just do another Enron, take all the employees retirement money, all the investors money, strip the place bare, reemerge as another Phoenix company, with lots of executive pay, paying no tax, the usual.

  • Alastair Leith

    Quite a few blue circles in the Victorian/NSW Alps on that map.

  • Aluap

    Unfortunately posts and wires are still needed with renewables, and this is where the big companies make their criminal profits.