WA could be 100 per cent renewable by 2030

Western Australia’s south-west grid could be powered with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 for “cheaper than business as usual”, a new report has found.

In the Energy 2030 report, the WA Greens have modelled two scenarios for the South West Interconnected System (SWIS), which found it was technically possible to achieve a 100 per cent renewable energy powered grid through a mix of solar PV, wind, solar thermal, biomass and battery storage without raising the cost of power bills.

Scenario one puts an emphasis on large-scale solar thermal, and found the state could transition to 100 per cent renewables with 12 solar thermal stations, 29 wind farms, and six utility scale solar PV farms.

Scenario two focused on lowest-cost technologies, and would include 27 winds farms, two solar thermal stations, and eight solar PV farms.

Both scenarios included the use of four existing biomass plants and up to 700,000 households and businesses installing solar PV and battery storage.

The study found it would be cheaper than business as usual, when a carbon price of $30/tCo2 was added and surplus generation is sold at $30/MWh.

“Our modelling of the cost of electricity for each scenario by 2030 shows that going to 100 per cent renewable electricity will have no impact on people’s power bills at all, with all scenarios including business as usual costing us 27c/kWhr by 2030,” the report said.

“Over the longer term however the average household power bill would be significantly less given there will be no fuel costs.”

Energy 2030 also found the move to renewables would create more than 150,000 jobs.

Greens Senator for WA Scott Ludlam said the report exposed the Barnett government comprehensive failure to take action on climate change, with no plan or vision to transition to a renewable energy state.

“Under Colin Barnett’s head in the sand approach to climate change, our greenhouse emissions keep pushing higher,” he said.

“In his time we have seen the commencement of the Pluto and Gorgon LNG hubs adding a further 10 million tonnes of carbon into the air, which is in contravention to the Paris Agreement.

“This state has suffered under a serious lack of leadership on renewable energy, starting with Barnett scrapping the Climate Change Unit in 2013.

“That’s why we will call on whoever wins the election to establish a new government authority called Renew Western Australia, to get us back on track.”

The report includes a timetable for a staged, stable closure of fossil-fueled power stations.

“Approximately 500MW a year in new renewable capacity is added to the grid as we power down our most polluting and inefficient fossil power generators, based on new emissions intensity and air pollution standards the Greens will introduce,” the report said.

“By 2030 all coal generation has been phased out, and some gas-turbines have been retained and modified to run on bio-fuels during potential shortfall periods of low solar and wind supply.”

Currently, nine per cent of WA’s power comes from renewable sources.