Rise of Solar Rooftops to Accelerate Coal’s Exit in Australia
(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s accelerating energy transition will see half of all homes installed with rooftop solar in the early 2030s, helping to spur a faster exit from coal-fired power generation, according to the operator of the country’s main electricity market.
About 14 gigawatts of generation capacity using the fuel could retire by the end of the decade, far more than the 5.4 gigawatts of closures currently announced, the Australian Energy Market Operator said Friday, citing the most likely scenario in a draft plan to develop the country’s electricity system over the next 30 years.
“The sector is undergoing a more rapid change than has been previously expected,” the operator said in the plan. “Given these uncertainties, the effective coordination of closures will be extremely challenging.”
More than half of homes connected to the national electricity market will have rooftop solar panels installed by 2032 from the current 30%, and that will rise to 65% by 2050, according to AEMO’s plan.
Australia, which still relies heavily on coal for power generation, can do more to harness advantages in renewables, according to the document. Utility-scale wind and solar capacity can be increased nine-fold by 2050 to about 140 gigawatts.
“We have the blueprint for how Australia can operate a coal power-free grid in a little over a decade,” said Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute, a think tank that advocates a faster shift away from fossil fuels.
Some other key AEMO forecasts for changes by 2050:
- A tripling of firming capacity such as batteries, hydro storage and virtual power plants.
- Installation of 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) of transmission lines.
- Installation of four times the current rooftop solar capacity, with most connected to a dedicated energy storage system.
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