Transgrid has revealed its Energy Vision for Australia’s electricity system, outlining how supporting the shift to clean energy and decarbonisation could boost the economy, job opportunities and create lower energy costs for consumers.
Transgrid Executive Manager for Network Planning and Operations, Kasia Kulbacka, said the Vision will influence Transgrid’s long-term planning for its future-focused energy infrastructure.
“The aim of the Energy Vision is to demonstrate an evidence-based approach that there is a pathway to enable Australia to become a global leader in clean energy, delivering significant benefits for the economy,” Ms Kulbacka said.
“The Energy Vision is the blueprint for what needs to happen in our energy system to capture this opportunity for the whole nation.”
The Energy Vision was developed in partnership with independent experts at the CSIRO, ClimateWorks Australia and The Brattle Group.
It explores six possible futures for our energy system over the next 30 years to 2050 using detailed scenario modelling.
The six scenarios range from a future based on current trends, to a backwards-looking sharp slump in Australia’s economic growth, to more optimistic scenarios in which Australia hits the Paris Agreement’s aspirational 1.5°C decarbonisation target and becomes a global, clean energy superpower.
The standout finding was that Australia’s energy transformation will be net positive for Australian job creation.
The modelling found a ‘deep decarbonisation’ of the Australian economy would create 45 per cent more electricity sector jobs this decade across the National Electricity Market (NEM), than a future where Australia continues to follow ‘current trends’.
In a ‘clean energy superpower’ future, 67,000 electricity sector jobs would be created between 2030 and 2050.
Most of these jobs would be in regional Australia; and areas reliant on coal industries would benefit from new opportunities, with modelling projecting that by 2050 North Queensland and the Hunter Valley in NSW could produce and export the largest quantities of hydrogen and green steel in Australia.
“Our modelling included direct jobs in the electricity sector but if you consider additional jobs in other sectors reliant on electricity, such as hydrogen, green steel and aluminium, the opportunities would be far greater,” Ms Kulbacka said.
“There are strong benefits to be gained from moving rapidly to achieve a net zero emissions economy. Supporting domestic and global decarbonisation will supercharge our economy, drive job creation and lower the cost of electricity.
“The Clean Energy Superpower scenario also achieves the lowest average energy cost for all consumers – 12 per cent lower than current trends.”
Transgrid’s Future Grid Planning Manager, Jesse Steinfeld, said the Energy Vision underscores why Australia needs to move faster to decarbonise the economy.
“The modelling suggests the transition to renewables is unstoppable. In five out of the six scenarios we examined, renewable energy supplies more than 70 per cent of the NEM’s annual energy needs by 2035 and more than 90 per cent by 2050,” Mr Steinfeld said.
“Electricity generation accounts for a third of Australia’s total emissions. By rapidly switching to renewables we will reduce these emissions while also enabling the decarbonisation of other sectors of the economy.
“With decarbonisation objectives aligned to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5⁰C temperature trajectory, renewable energy is required to supply 91 per cent of the National Electricity Market Annual electricity needs in 2030.”
The Energy Vision also sets out how Australia can become a clean energy superpower by leveraging abundant renewable energy resources and mineral ores to export green hydrogen and metals to the world.
“The modelling in our ‘clean energy superpower’ scenario shows renewable energy resources could enable Australia to produce some of the lowest cost green hydrogen in the world, falling to $1/kg by 2050 at major hydrogen-producing locations on the south and east coasts of Australia.
“Australia has a fantastic opportunity to bring heavy industry back home – using Australian iron ore and Australian green hydrogen, our nation would become a global player in zero emissions steel.
“At Transgrid, our vision is for Australia to become a global clean energy leader, benefiting communities, the economy and the environment,” Mr Steinfeld said.
“In this future, the energy sector is a major exporter and job creator and Australians have access to some of the lowest cost, low emissions electricity in the world. To make that happen the pace of change needs to rapidly accelerate.”