"Australia's coal power fleet has underpinned our economy and everyday lives for many decades. But these generators are ageing and the growth of renewable energy and climate urgency are speeding their retirement. Ai Group has said for some time that this need not be cause for concern as long as we have confidence that there will be:
- adequate replacement energy, along with flexible resources and any new infrastructure needed to support it;
- equitable treatment of the workers, communities and supply chains affected; and
- both the time and investment-grade policy environment to get these solutions in place.
"The Federal and Victorian Governments, the energy market authorities, the energy industry, energy users and other stakeholders are hard at work on solving these problems and preparing for further coal retirements.
"New renewable energy zones, major transmission lines and interconnections, energy storage projects, robust demand response mechanisms and other flexible resources are deliverable by 2028, though assessing the merits of individual proposals is still important to get the most efficient and sustainable electricity system.
"EnergyAustralia has made that process much easier by providing clear guidance seven years in advance, well beyond their regulatory obligation, and by working with the Victorian Government on the transition with a major storage investment and a worker package.
"Nobody wants to see a repeat of the Hazelwood experience, when its rapid exit early in 2017 left no time for investors, energy users or communities to prepare. In a suddenly tight electricity market prices surged and reliability was under question each summer until private investment and government action caught up in 2020.
"Our strong prospects for avoiding another Hazelwood are no reason to relax. Ever-cheaper renewables will keep undermining the economics of existing power plants. The challenges of managing a highly renewable grid are real. If we solve them well, a new energy advantage beckons. If we don't, we will lose competitiveness and block our pathway to net zero emissions," Mr Willox said.
Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347