A new Engineers Australia report is calling for a national transition plan for the country’s electricity sector and warns that without one the next generation of electricity will not be cheap, clean or reliable.

The Future of Australian Electricity Generation report says time is running out with a rapidly looming end date for establishing a secure and cheap supply of electricity.

Engineers Australia’s electricity spokesman, Mark Lendich, says Australia has one of the oldest and least efficient power generation fleets in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

‘Around 70 per cent of our thermal generation needs to be replaced in the next decade. We need a properly engineered system to take over. This will not be cheap or straightforward but it is an unavoidable reality.’

Mark Lendich says people’s livelihoods are at stake.

‘Workers at power stations that are closing will need to be retrained and new skills developed to allow a shift to lower emissions options and the new jobs that will be created because of this.’

The report acknowledges that modernising the grid will take 15-20 years, the technology mix as it evolves,will vary over time, and wind, solar and improvements to energy efficiency will all play a significant role.

The report also recommends the transition plan include:

  • The determination the government achieves its emissions reduction target for 2030
  • Outline how it will achieve this recognising coal plants are rapidly approaching their use by date and amongst the oldest in the OECD
  • Establish a consistent policy framework and rules to encourage the take up of renewable and other low or zero emissions technologies that are compatible and build on the current grid and off grid options.
  • Have a regular review structure in place that takes into account changing economics and policies

The report says electricity supply is essential to modern life but also one of the biggest contributors to global warming.

The report acknowledges that there is currently no single energy source that can provide all three but many are likely to be needed as the country transitions to a renewable and modern grid.

Engineers Australia argues that it is also vital that the transition planning body include input from consumers and engineers as well as the environmental, legal and financial sectors.
 

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