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‘If we’re going to have renewables, we’ve got to have the backup right’: Power giant calls for more dispatchable power

Luke Grant

Power giants AGL Energy and Origin Energy are reportedly concerned the proliferation of renewable energy could generate a new wave of volatility in Australia’s electricity grid.

A lack of sufficient backup capacity could unleash instability throughout the market, say key industry participants. This has prompted calls for more emphasis on ensuring intermittent renewables have adequate backup systems in place, to spare and protect Australian consumers from a supply deficit.

With the Opposition pledging a 50% renewable energy target by 2030, the scramble to secure this dispatchable, backup mechanism has been amplified.

Luke Grant says the warning personifies the pitfalls of renewable energy.

“This to me suggests renewable energy evangelists and the intermittent energy they champion is just that: intermittent, sporadic and unreliable.”

Economist Judith Sloan agrees, saying more than reliability is at stake.

“If we’re going to have a lot of renewables, we’ve got to have what we call firming capacity. We have to have the backup right,” she says.

“Unless we think about that, we’re going to get to a position where we switch the switch and the light doesn’t come on or we switch the switch and it’s going to be too expensive.”

“Even in the best scenario, solar might give you power 30% of the time, because the sun goes down everyday. Wind may be at best 50%. You’ve still got a really big gap in how you’re going to fill the time when power is demanded but there is no supply.

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Luke Grant
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