100% renewable energy on the grid by 2025, AEMO target

Wind turbines in a green field with sky above

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has announced a new goal for itself to be capable of handling 100% renewable energy penetration on the grid by 2025.

New AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman, who started in the role in May of this year, used his first public address in the position to announce the goal at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia keynote on July 14.

Westerman stressed the need of increasing the capacity for renewable penetration across the grid, stating “this must be our goal not because of personal ambition, politics or ideology, but because we know this is where we’re headed.”

What is renewable energy penetration?

The penetration of renewable energy generally means the amount of renewables produced in relation to the total amount of energy (renewable and non-renewable) consumed across the grid. It can also mean the total amount of renewable energy produced versus the total amount of electricity generated, but in this instance Westerman is relating to the former.

There are some countries in the world that already have the capacity to manage and are in fact using almost 100% renewable energy. Two scandanavian countries in Norway and Iceland rely on their readily available hydroelectricity to power most of their homes with an increase in non-hydro renewables a new focus for both nations.

Norway powers just 3% of their supply with fossil fuels, while the much smaller Iceland, with a population of around just 350,000, has produced 100% of its supply from renewables since 1980. Could Australia join this list of nations relying on mostly renewables in the near future?

In 2020, 21% of Australia’s electricity came from renewable energy, up from 19% in 2018. The largest increase in renewable energy generation came by way of large-scale solar, up 135%, followed by small-scale solar and wind. Australia has the highest uptake of solar globally, with around 29% of homes featuring rooftop solar panels.

Does this mean Australia is only using renewable energy from 2025?

No, we won’t be using entirely green energy from 2025 onwards, but the goal is that we would have the infrastructure and capacity available to do so. At one point last year South Australia was powered entirely by solar energy for one hour, with the AEMO claiming at the time it was a world-first for a grid of that size.

With power generated from renewables, there is zero fuel cost and zero emissions meaning we would be running a clean and affordable energy system. With the new goal set, the idea would be that all of Australia would be capable of a similar feat achieved by South Australia last year.

The reason we are only able to rely on these renewables for periods of time and not indefinitely is the lack of stability it can cause across our current systems, something upgrades in infrastructure could be able to improve in future.

The new goal of the AEMO would see upgrades and improvements to the systems and processes that produce, store and generate our energy that will aim to increase the capacity of Australian grids to rely on clean energy sources more efficiently and effectively.


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