Australia has the potential to harness and generate enough clean and renewable energy, that can be consumed domestically and still be surplus to export. The country’s entire electricity operations can be transformed to renewable energy. There are, however, two major challenges that renewable energy suppliers are facing today. First is obsolete and aging transmission infrastructure and second is a government that is presently static on renewable energy efforts.
The renewable energy industry is growing exponentially in Australia, to a large extent, can lead the world as an example of how best wind and solar energy can completely over turn the archaic and dangerous coal electricity economy. But with little support from the government and an aging transmission infrastructure, designed for coal-based energy, this is proving to be difficult for many projects that could potentially change the face of electricity consumption in the country.
Karadoc Solar Farm in Victoria’s far north-west, owned by BayWa r.e., has 300,000 solar panels that produce enough energy to power around 40,000 homes. The project entered the grid in 2018. BayWa r.e. managing director David Shapero says Australia’s transmission infrastructure is beginning to hold back the boom in cheap renewable energy. “At the moment we’ve been able to put most of the renewable energy that’s available to go in (to the grid), but there’s many more projects to go in. The transmission infrastructure is filling up and it’s providing more and more electrical challenges, he said.
Connecting to the grid is the most basic aspect for any project to start operations. But since this is not happening, people may soon move away, discouraged by the present scenario. “People won’t invest unless they can connect, and so if we can secure a connection, then of course we will invest. As we look to develop new projects, obviously we will be looking for the new infrastructure,” he said.
He and many others are also of the opinion that it is the inaction in part of the government that may be causing this loss, who have yet to show a strong dedication to the renewable energy initiative in Australia. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), has already highlighted the urgent need for more spending on transmission infrastructure to avoid energy price spikes and blackouts. “We are going through a transition, probably the most significant transformation in this industry that it’s ever gone through. One of our concerns is that the transmission capability we have in some of these regions just isn’t enough to accommodate the renewables,” AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said.
He further emphasized on the need to change the regulatory framework, to one that can put the processes in play to replace the old infrastructure with a new transmission.