Australia is a nation of vast size with the majority of the population based on the east coast, in peak hour how do you maximise energy efficiency? The National Electricity Market using West Australian solar in peak times could power the East’s peak loads.
Australia is a nation of vast size with the majority of the population based on the east coast, in peak hour how do you maximise energy efficiency? The National Electricity Market using (NEM) West Australian solar in peak times could power the East’s peak loads.
Australia at night
To achieve such efficiency Australia’s NEM would need to be a national interconnected network of the east and west coast networks. Essentially utlising both the time difference and the population variances.
ABB Australia’s head of power grids Roland Vitelli told Fairfax Media by having this overarching focus of the National Electricity Market as a wider system, instead of narrower state-based priorities, the it could leverage Australia’s size so utilising more hours of sunshine for solar power. He said technology was being created that could expand the NEM to Western Australia and the Northern Territory, pointing to its recent developments in long distance high voltage power lines and the digitisation and automation of grids which would enable greater control of bigger networks.
ABB technology would allow for 12,000 megawatts of electricity to be transferred over 3000 kilometres, “enabling the integration and transmission of remote renewables on a much larger scale,” Way back in In 2002 ABB installed the world’s longest underground power transmission system which runs 180 kilometres between Berri in South Australia and Red Cliffs in Victoria.
Energy demand has changed, recently we saw how bitcoin mining has been devouring power from a cheap hydropower source to the point it caused blackouts, an example of changing power needs (where was Bitcoin mining 18 months ago) and inefficent power manangement.
Australia has different challenges with it’s size and population pocket intensity’s, which creates a similar heavy peak power load as massive bitcoin mining but for shorter periods. The answer has been raising prices and drawing down on power. This is hardly efficient. Australia has the unique opportunity on lightening the load on non-renewable sources but increasing it’s renewable energy performance and blend by using solar power from Western Australia in the Eastern stae population centers around Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. An automated NEM could forecast peak load times in the eastern states and where most demand would arise, and then use the energy generated by West Australian solar panels at time when there is less demand in WA,.
Mr Vitelli sums it up simply; “It’s energy for when the east coast needs it most as it starts to get dark, while it is still light in Wetsern Australia,”
The fact that the Australian Energy Market Operator, which runs the eastern states’ National Electricity Market is also in charge of Western Australia’s Electricity Market (WEM), would overcome integration issues. “Some of the challenges and opportunities in the NEM and WEM are similar while others are very different,” an AEMO spokeswoman told Fairfax Media. “While it is possible for the WEM to be connected to the NEM should physical infrastructure be built, significant consideration will need to be given to aspects such as regulatory changes and market reforms.”
However it is not that simple Grattan Institute’s David Blowers said such interconnectivity would require Western Australia to completely remodel its existing system to dovetail into the NEM. The costs in this case need to show viability to get through, not to mention a powerful coal lobby.
“Western Australia does have different peak solar times and does get a lot of sunshine, but given issues around transmission loss it would surprise me if the idea would stack up. You would want a serious cost analysis. I don’t think it’s really a something for the short to medium term” TAI research director Rod Campbell told Fairfax Media
In this case the efficency and logic is a natural, the cost is the barrier. Ironically Australia may need another mining boom to pay for it.
From a Sunburnt Country