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Repowering WA with renewable energy provides a once in a generation opportunity for infrastructure investment, jobs and value creation that will be a powerful driver for economic activity for decades to come.
Powering WA’s Southwest electricity grid with renewable energy by 2030 is both affordable and achievable.
The costs of building and delivering renewable energy solutions are reducing every year, and large scale wind and solar are already able to deliver cheaper electricity than coal and gas. Repowering WA can reduce energy bills for homes and businesses, and support significant growth in manufacturing, minerals processing and other energy-intensive industries that can employ more people here in WA.
A report commissioned by Clean State has found the move to 90% renewable electricity on WA’s South West Interconnected System (SWIS) is technologically possible by 2030 and would create over 8600 jobs.
The 90% Renewable Energy Roadmap created by expert group Sustainable Energy Now provides a transition blueprint for the SWIS – WA’s main electricity grid covering most of the population and spanning from Geraldton to Kalgoorlie.
For this plan, new renewable energy generation capacity totalling 11.7 GW of will be required by 2030. Optimising the mix of technology to take into consideration electricity demand, weather, cost, technology and the design of the SWIS grid, the SEN model suggests that this should be made up of:
- 5000 MW wind
- 4500 MW rooftop solar
- 2200 MW utility solar
This investment would provide a significant number of jobs to build the infrastructure required. Each year, 800MW of new renewable energy capacity would need to be added, which is, roughly equivalent to the sum of the following:
- 2 windfarms the size of Merredin’s Collgar wind farm, each year (206MW)
- 1.5 solar farms the size of the Merredin Solar Farm, currently WA’s biggest, every year (132MW)
- 1 ‘big battery’ the size of SA’s Tesla giant battery at Hornsdale every two years (100MW); and
- ~3500 ‘prosumer’ batteries the size of the Tesla Powerwall installed each year (13.5kWh/0.135MW)
There would also be additional investment and employment opportunities in providing energy storage and grid services to compliment this generation mix.
Much of the rooftop solar can be delivered by private investment if WA’s electricity market is reformed to enable rooftop solar and battery systems to link into the grid productively. Increased battery storage would stabilise the network, and with 78,000 houses in WA coming off a 40c feed in-tariff this year, there is a prime opportunity to encourage these households to upgrade and battery.
Besides the climate benefits and direct employment gains accompanying these investments and reforms, a timetable for the staged and managed closure of WA’s coal-fired power stations will avoid energy and business uncertainty, both for the state and for those currently working in the industry.
Many credible studies have found that the SWIS, WA’s main grid, can transition to 100% Renewable sources by 2030. These include:
- 90-100% Renewable Electricity for the South West Interconnected System of WA’ (ANU, 2017)
- Energy 2030 (Sustainable Energy Now, 2017)
- Collie at the Crossroads – Planning a future beyond coal (Beyond Zero Emissions, 2019)