Report sees role for gas generation in future energy market

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

Miranda Taylor

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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One thought on “Report sees role for gas generation in future energy market

  1. While we should support the utilisation of existing gas power plants while we need them, investing in infrastructure like pipelines for gas from the west coast to the east when those assets will likely prove worthless long before they return their investment seems to fail the “value for money” test. Worse pipelines to transport co2 ! Already coal power assets have proved to be “stranded” assets, years ahead of predictions despite the mineral council’s best efforts, power supplied from even existing coal plants is demonstrably more expensive than wind even with storage, gas will be a similar story. If we must transport energy from one state to the other let’s do so by building low leakage high voltage interconnecting electricity cables, and produce the power locally where the resource is available be it sun, wind or gas, (preferably green hydrogen). Such a network would allow solar production for up to 16 hrs a day as the sun crossed the country sending surplus eastern dawn power to the west and the revers in sunset hours in the west. Also the environmental impact of a cable can be minimised less so a gas pipeline. Transporting a gas in a pipeline so you can burn it to make electricity on arrival when you could have just transmitted the electricity seems a bad idea except to gas extracting transporting and burning organisations.

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