Media Statement: Release of the Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap by the State Government
Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap welcomed by SEN
4 April 2020
The release today by the State Government of its Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap has been welcomed as a significant development by Ian Porter, Chair of the community thinktank Sustainable Energy Now (SEN).
“SEN is committed to the rapid and early introduction of renewable energy into Western Australia’s power system,” he stated.
“This Roadmap is the first step in the process and SEN congratulates the government for producing such a comprehensive and complete guideline.”
“The transition of WA’s main power grid, the SWIS, from a centrally controlled and powered system to one with distributed energy resources is a massive undertaking and needs to be well-planned, particularly the proposed steps towards tariff reform.”
“Tariff reform is always difficult and those opposed to change are likely to focus on those who may be most impacted.”
“But without tariff reform to drive behavioural change, the system will not operate fairly, efficiently nor sustainably.”
Porter added that “SEN will now review the Roadmap more comprehensively, focussing on the pilot tariff reform exercises to make sure they bring about the best result for the system and its users, which is basically everyone in the southern part of the state.”
New SEN Brochure available
Ross Garnaut recording available
17 February 2020
The link to the recording and slides from Prof. Ross Garnaut's book launch in Perth "Superpower: Australia’s low carbon opportunity" is available from the SEN Events page.
SEN Submission to the WA EPA regarding Woodside's Browse and North-west Shelf Proposals.
13 February 2020
SEN Submission to the WA EPA regarding Woodside's Browse and North-west Shelf Proposals [PDF file, 1 MB]
Woodside’s proposed Browse Basin development will emit 4 gigatonnes of GHG pollution over its 30-50 year lifetime.
This includes 4.8 megatonnes of ‘reservoir CO2’ each year, which will be vented to the atmosphere.
It will increase by 19% the emissions needing to be reduced elsewhere by 2030 under Australia’s Paris target.
There are numerous flaws and misrepresentations in the Woodside proposals:
- They do not clearly report estimated methane emissions
- They under-estimate methane’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) by calculating the effect over 100 years instead of 20 years (over 20 years methane is 84 times more potent as a warming agent than CO2);
- They attempt to conceal the magnitude of the reservoir CO2 emissions;
- They use an unrealistic and discredited projection of global gas demand, which is at odds with other projections
Furthermore, Woodside is making no realistic attempt to avoid, minimise or offset these emissions.
Woodside repeatedly claims, incorrectly, that gas is 50% less polluting than coal. SEN’s analysis shows that gas is at best 25% less polluting than coal.
This massive gas development cannot proceed if the world is to keep global warming within 2.0ºC.
Sensitivity of Electricity Prices to a Carbon Price on the South West Interconnected System
31 January 2020
Sensitivity of Electricity Prices to a Carbon Price on the South West Interconnected System. SEN submission to Energy Planning WA.
Energy Policy WA has been developing a Whole of System Plan (WoSP), but a carbon price has not been considered in the modelling. This report argues that there are national and state requirements to manage climate risk, and provides a well-researched sensitivity analysis which shows that various levels of carbon price can add 20-50% to the wholesale cost of electricity. Our conclusion is that modelling and decision making which does not include consideration of a carbon price is flawed, given the size of the effect indicated by this sensitivity analysis. The report itself outlines some of the implications.
Joint Special Event JCIPP and SEN present Prof Ross Garnaut
Sustainable Energy Now (SEN) and John Curtin Institute of Public Policy (JCIPP) present Professor Ross Garnaut AC.
Professor Garnaut discussed his newest book "Superpower: Australia’s low carbon opportunity".
In the book, Professor Garnaut offers a road map for progress, covering energy, transport, agriculture, the international scene and more. Rich in ideas and practical optimism, Superpower is a crucial, timely contribution to this country’s future.
Slides and video links from the event on our events page.
SEN Submission to DWER intended to inform the formulation of WA Goverment's Climate Change policy.
6 Dec 2019
Among other things, the submission:
- quantifies the scale and scope of the emissions' reductions required to meet state targets. While SEN has responded within the context of the State’s emissions target, (which matches the federal targets of 28% reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050), SEN has emphasised that much stronger action needs to be taken, along with a trajectory of reductions.
- summarises Negative Emissions Technologies and fuel switching approaches which can be applied or developed.
SEN has outlined targets that need to be met to meet the State's responsibility to meet WA's share of the national target of 28% emissions reduction over 2005 levels by 2030. To achieve this, the State needs to:
- Find 37 Mtpa of total abatement, to move from 88 Mtpa (in 2017) to 51 Mtpa in 2030.
- Reduce total emissions by at least 3.7 Mtpa CO2e per year between 2020 and 2030, equating to a total reduction of 37 Mtpa.
- Reduce energy sector emissions to 45 Mtpa by 2030, at a rate of at least 4.5 Mtpa CO2e per year. This figure is higher because some emissions are being offset by land use activities.
Submission to EPA on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Guidelines
2 Sept 2019
This submission responds to the Environmental Protection Authority consultation about Guidelines to consider greenhouse gas emissions in its future assessments of developments in Western Australia. SEN has reviewed the Guidelines in terms of the latest scientific understanding, agrees with their content as an appropriate minimum first step, and suggests some extensions to the guidelines.
Federal Election Position
SEN supports the transition to Renewable Energy. Therefore, SEN supports candidates who:-
- Accept that global warming and climate change is occurring;
- Have plans to do something about it in terms of assisting a transition to renewable energy as a policy position; and
- Are against the development of fracking because it contributes to global warming and pollutes the environment and is unnecessary.
Climate Council Fact Sheet: Climate Policies of Major Australian Political Parties
"The Climate Council’s factsheet, Climate Policies of Major Australian Political Parties, summarises climate policies of the three major parties, using information sourced from their respective centrepiece policy documents. It is not a comparative analysis by the Climate Council. Many of these policies are proposals and have yet to be implemented or detailed fully."
Conservation Council Election Scorecard
The Conservation Council of WA has also produced a Climate Voter Scorecard. [May 10 2019]
Joint SEN Presents - 29 April 2019
SEN and the Power & Energy Society hosted a joint event about “Operating the Grid with Low Inertia”, where Julius Susanto presented on on the new AEMO modelling tools.
Here is the recording of the presentation. [10 May 2019]
The Progressive Christian Network of WA is holding a Sustainability Workshop on Saturday June 8, from 9am to 4pm, at the All Saints Floreat Uniting Church, 50 Berkeley Crescent, Floreat. For details, see the Flier. [9 May 2019]
SEN Federal Election Scorecard
Who supports Clean Energy in the 2019 Federal Election? Here is our analysis of the policy positions of all parties. [8 May 2019]
Special SEN Presents with Jay Weatherill
Jay Weatherill, ex premier of South Australia joined Sustainable Energy Now, BDO and Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) for a discussion around energy transition, the role of government, challenges WA faces and the deal with Tesla.
SEN disappointed at New Bus Purchase announcement
Sustainable Energy Now is deeply disappointed with the decision of the Western Australian Government to enter into a contract to purchase 900 new diesel buses over ten years, when electric buses would be a better option for a government with aspirations to be progressive and innovative. See our statement here. [21 March 2019]
SEN welcomes Electricity Planning announcement
SEN welcomes the Labor Government's announcement of a long overdue electricity planning process in Western Australia. Our views on the Whole of System Plan and Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap are available through this media release, and this more detailed statement. [11 March 2019]
SEN's recent contributions to the WA Energy Debate
Many of SEN's policy team made major contributions to our 52pp submission to the WA Scientific Inquiry into Fracking. Thanks also to researchers who provided advice and material to the SEN Policy team in preparing the submission.
SEN also presented insights on the energy transition to the Public Utilities Office (PUO). The PUO advise government on, amongst other things, matters relating to energy security, cost, policy options and futures.
- Our presentation to the PUO, PDF [1.6 MB]
- SEN submission to Western Australian Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in Western Australia PDF [2.0 MB]
- Appendix Document: Western Australian Tight Gas Industry: A review of groundwater and environmental risks. PDF [4.7 MB]
- WA Fracking Inquiry submissions library.
To view a list of our recent statements click here
For a round up of renewable energy technologies and SEN, download our Flyer.
SEN promotes practical, affordable strategies for a sustainable global future by the adoption of renewable energy. SEN is a dynamic and independent WA association.
What happens when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow?
As is the case now, a mix of different forms of generation on the WA grid will ensure supply regardless of weather conditions. During still nights or during periods of heavy cloud cover, biomass and energy storage will be used. Locating wind plant in many different areas will help ensure that windless periods are short and infrequent. Solar PV, being mainly dispersed on rooftops and varied in it's orientation, evens out the impact of localised cloud cover. Additionally, energy storage is inherent with Concentrated solar thermal (CST) generation and biomass thermal backup can also be incorporated.
During times when wind and solar generation exceed the load on the grid, storage facilities will be charged with any remaining excess generation curtailed.
What about the peak load?
Solar alone will go along way to supplying the peak load. Energy storage and biomass will be able provide the remaining power requirements. Peak 'lopping' (by delaying or precooling buildings and cold storage), and shifting of non-critical electricity use to other times, will reduce these peak loads. Other demand management and energy efficiency options will help even further.
What about Baseload?
Baseload is the load on a system that is on all the time, every hour of the year, the minimum generation required on the network. The load on the South West network varies with the time of day, day of the week, season of the year and the weather. This is demonstrated below by comparing the week with the biggest load (3,744MW, week beginning 20th of January) in 2014 with the week of the smallest load (1,438MW, week starting 7th of April).
Image is from the IMO website, http://www.imowa.com.au/#weekly-numbers-generation.
Baseload generators are designed to be run 24hrs/day every day of the week at a constant output. They are shut down when they need maintenance.
Baseload generation in WA is supplied by large centralised coal fired power stations that cannot be ramped up and down easily due to their size (thick chunks of steel and concrete can suffer cracking from thermal expansion and contraction if changes are too quick). They are also relatively expensive to build but ‘cheap’ to run and so have typically operated most of the time to make them more economic.
Currently, to ensure that the load is always met, on top of baseload generation, mid merit combined cycle gas turbines are used. They can be ramped up or down more easily to follow the load. This type of plant is cheaper to install but more expensive to run.
For the rare spikes in load that come from air conditioning after a run of hot working week days, peaking plant are used. They are usually cheapest to install but most expensive to run.
Baseload generators are not essential for the network if sufficient alternative generation is available.
Integrating continuously variable wind and solar
Into this mix, ever increasing levels of wind and solar can be added. While both produce according to the wind and sunshine available at the time, the larger renewable energy projects can be curtailed if required. They can do this balancing cheaper and quicker than fossil fuelled generators and, on the rare occasions when high winds cross the entire wind fleet late at night, this already occurs.
Increasing penetration of constantly varying wind and solar generation mean more ramping up and down of gas plant but reduce the actual gas consumed.
As solar only occurs during the day, it has little direct impact on baseload but will reduce the amount of gas consumed in the mid merit generators. Solar generators have the effect of reducing the peak load and pushing it further into the evening.
What about carbon capture and storage (CCS) or 'clean coal'?
Wind turbines, photovoltaics (rooftop solar and solar farms), solar thermal and biomass are proven and widely implemented technologies, while even proponents of carbon geo-sequestration admit it is 10 to 15 years away. The extra energy required for CCS and the limited availability of suitable sites are also obstacles.
Aren't renewable energy technologies expensive?
Depends very much on the resources available but here in WA, rooftop solar is already at 'grid parity' (competing with retail prices). Photovoltiacs have dropped 75% in cost over the past four years and are set to continue, albeit at a more gradual pace. The cost of wind generation continues to drop gradually. Costs of CST (with energy storage) are also competing with new fossil-powered stations.
Unlike sustainable energy, the burning of fossil fuels has additional costs from pollution, including carbon emissions, particulates, NOx, SOx, mercury and radioactive particles. While these costs are real and affect the health of locals and the environment, they are neglected in the economics of fossil fuelled electricity. This is a serious deficiency in current energy economics.
Note that the cost of generation is half the electricity bill. The cost of transmission, distribution, balancing, spinning reserve, backup and administration cover the other half.
Does switching to renewables mean fewer jobs?
Renewable energy generally employs more people than coal or gas per MWh generated. As of end of 2013, 21,000 people were directly employed in the renewable energy industry in Australia.