The Australian Energy Market Operator has released its 20 year plan for the national electricity market as the nation switches to a lower emissions economy.
The 2020 plan identifies the way forward for the energy market over the next two decades, envisioning a transition from centralised coal-fired generation to renewable energy resources.
The AEMO says 63 per cent of coal fired generation will reach the end of its life by 2040 and Australia will need an additional 26 to 50 GW of new renewable energy, much of it built in renewable energy zones (REZ).
But it also sees a continuing role for gas and hydrogen, and says gas-fired generators could play a greater role in the future landscape.
“Existing combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) and open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) are forecast to play critical complementary roles when significant coal generation retires in the 2030s,” it says.
The role of hydrogen will be more closely examined in the 2022 plan, AMEO says.
The report says when implemented, the reforms will create a “modern and efficient energy system capable of delivering $11 billion in market benefits, while satisfying competition, affordability and emission policies.
Managing director Audrey Zibelman says the analysis confirms that as coal plants retire the lowest cost transition for the energy market will be to “a diverse portfolio consisting of distributed energy resources (DER) and variable renewable energy (VRE), supported by multiple dispatchable resources”.
Government backs gas
Energy minister Angus Taylor said the 2020 ISP had identified a number of development opportunities and transmission investments that would be needed to ensure grid security over the next twenty years.
He says the government is already working on a number of recommendations in the report including HumeLink and Marinus Link.
Mr Taylor also said the government “strongly believes” gas will play an important role in the future energy market.
However, climate change expert Professor Jeremy Moss, who chaired the UNESCO working group on climate ethics and energy security, says the push to invest in gas is out of keeping with the move to renewable energy.
“Pursuing a gas led recovery will be one of the bigger mistakes Australia makes in response to COVID-19,” he said in a statement.
Enhancing oil recovery with CO2
Meanwhile the energy resources sector growth centre, National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), and carbon capture and storage research organisation CO2CRC, have announced a $1.3 million study into the feasibility of a technique known CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery in Australian oil fields.
CO2-EOR increases the volume of oil that can be recovered by injecting CO2 into reservoirs, which helps the oil flow into production wells.
It can increase oil recovery by up to 25 per cent as well as helping carbon reduce by permanently storing CO2 in underground reservoirs.
The first stage of the study, led by CO2CRC and Geosciences Australia with support from the COAL21 investment fund, will rank oil and gas basins for Co2 enhanced oil recovery.
The second phase will provide an insight to industry and government the potential for using COEOR in offshore oilfields, including those in the Cooper and Surat Basins.
The study will also recommend a framework to policies, incentives and regulation to help uptake of CO2-EOR in Australia.
NERA CEO Miranda Taylor says the project will help meet the recommendations of the King Review and open new emissions reduction opportunities.
Up till now, she says, research has meant the full potential of CCUS has been untested.
“This project will assist in removing these barriers by examining the economic and technical feasibility and potential of using CO₂ in EOR and as a pathway to long-term CO₂ storage in Australia,” she said.
CO2CRC CEO David Byers said CO₂-EOR has the potential to significantly reduce CO₂ emissions while improving Australia’s energy security by boosting oil recovery in mature basins.
“All of the injected volume of CO₂ will be permanently stored in underground reservoirs by the end of the operational life cycle,” Mr Byers said.
The study will run until October 2021.
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