Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Coal is King: Electricity Generation Predictions in Australia out to 2037

From the The Australian Energy Market Operator's  2012 NATIONAL TRANSMISSION NETWORK DEVELOPMENT PLAN for the National Electricity Market.

Predictions for energy generation by technology make interesting reading for those who think that the growth of renewables and a shift away from coal is inevitable in the near-ish future. Certainly the bureaucrats don't think so!!
Key findings from the 2012 NTNDP modelling for generation investment involve the following:
• Eastern and South Eastern Australia will still rely on coal-fired generation during the outlook period, and new generation investment until 2020 (particularly wind generation) will primarily be driven by the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET).
• The carbon price, new renewable generation resulting from the LRET, a changing fuel mix and lower energy growth will change the operation and output of different types of electricity generation.
• Least-cost modelling, assuming Treasury’s core carbon price projections, retires or mothballs 4,300 MW of brown and black coal-fired generation, which constitutes 16% of the current coal-fired installed capacity, over the outlook period, with the remaining coal-fired generation maintaining its competitiveness.
• There is less need for combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) generation, which requires a higher carbon price or lower gas fuel prices than modelled to compete with coal. There is a need for additional generation to meet peak demand, however, and this will largely be met by open
cycle gas turbine (OCGT) generation, which provides reliable generation reserves in an environment of significant levels of intermittent generation (such as wind) and reduced coal-fired generation.
Greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in Eastern Australia will largely persist at current levels, before decreasing at the end of the outlook period.
The orange and yellow bits are coal. Wind grows significantly over the next few years in line with renewable targets but then stagnates. These are just estimates but the surprising thing for many people would be the negligible role for solar and the relatively insignificant role for gas.

Right now there is an important debate going on about whether a level of gas supply should be quarantined for exports as most countries in the world do. FWIW I think some surety of gas supply for domestic purposes would be good policy even if gas producers think it's a restriction on the 'free' market.

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