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Western Australia’s recently published Whole of System Plan (WOSP) has provided a 20-year forecast on the future of the South West Interconnected System (SWIS), indicating a significant increase in renewable generation.

The plan models four scenarios detailing how changes in demand, technology and the economy may shape the way the state uses electricity, and guide the investments made over the coming decades.

The modelling reveals renewable generation is expected to triple by 2040, with a strong uptake in wind power. Rooftop solar will continue to displace traditional forms of generation.

Battery storage will also play a big part in Western Australia’s future, helping stabilise the system as well as unlocking new markets. 

Renewable energy sources, including the 300,000 households with rooftop solar, account for over 20 per cent of the annual electricity generated in the SWIS. 

In early October, the Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, and Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, announced the State Government’s plan to construct WA’s biggest battery.

The State Government is currently in discussions with the Federal Government regarding potential funding for the project. A decision will be made in late 2020.  

“The McGowan Government continues to transform the energy landscape for all Western Australians. This Whole of System Plan will play an integral part in the state’s transition towards a low-carbon future,” Mr Johnston said.

“It’s the most comprehensive modelling study ever undertaken into the future of WA’s electricity system and it will support our transition to low-cost electricity.

“Our state is embracing renewable generation, with one in three households having rooftop solar panels.This signifies that battery storage will play an important role in our future.”

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said that the state is making tremendous gains in its efforts to increase the role of renewable energy, and this plan will ensure the transition is well-managed and least-cost.

“Western Australia has traditionally lagged behind the eastern states when it comes to renewable energy, but it’s really starting to make up ground off the back of innovation in the use of distributed energy resources, with one in three households having rooftop solar,” Mr Thornton said.

“I’d like to congratulate the Western Australian Government for its proactive efforts to embrace clean energy. 

“It has resulted in a rapid transformation across both small- and large-scale renewable energy and, most recently, plans were unveiled for a 100MW big battery to help stabilise the state’s energy needs.”

Coal-fired generation will decline under all four scenarios in the WOSP modelling, and the emissions intensity of electricity production will decrease in all scenarios.

“Western Australia boasts world-class wind resources and to see wind generation as the preferred form of new large-scale capacity in all scenarios, ranging from 60MW to over 3,000MW at the highest demand scenario, means that the state will harness its significant clean energy advantages to keep energy prices low for all energy users,” Mr Thornton said.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Audrey Zibelman, said, “WA’s energy system continues to rapidly transform as investment increases in rooftop solar and household devices that store energy, including batteries.

“Care must be taken now to manage this transition towards a more decarbonised, decentralised and digitalised power system.”

As a key project in the WA Government’s Energy Transformation Strategy, AEMO said it supports the release of the inaugural WOSP to help deliver a low cost and secure energy future.

Energy Networks Australia, CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the Western Australian Government was to be congratulated for developing the comprehensive roadmap to support WA’s renewable energy transition.

“Western Australia has one of the nation’s highest rates of rooftop solar uptake and the plan notes this is growing rapidly and will continue to displace coal,” Mr Dillon said.

“This is great news for carbon emission reductions, but it comes with challenges to keep the electricity system secure and reliable.

“Western Power is already delivering innovations highlighted in the plan, such as community batteries to provide local support for the grid and more reliable supply for customers.

“We expect to see more network batteries deployed across the country to keep grids stable and allow more solar to connect.

“WA is to be congratulated for leading the way on community batteries.

“This comprehensive plan is a vital part of ensuring WA’s customers get maximum benefit for lowest cost into the future.”

For more information on the Energy Transformation Strategy and the Whole of System Plan, click here.

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