The CSIRO says there is no technical reason why Australia can’t run solely on renewable energy.
As reported by Renew Economy, The claim was made at the Senate select committee into the “Resilience of electricity infrastructure in a warming world,” where Paul Graham (CSIRO energy division’s principal research scientist) said there were no barriers to 100 per cent renewable energy.
Graham said that introducing renewables at a share of 10, 20 or 30 per cent is “fairly trivial”, because the existing generation capacity has “a lot of flexibility” to deal with the variability. Graham also pointed out that an existing back-up and redundancy was already in existence for the current grid.
100 per cent is where the challenges arise, but it’s still entirely feasible, Graham says.
Graham said in models where the renewable penetration is increased above around 40 per cent of the energy delivered (where South Australia is now), it “starts to force out some of that existing dispatchable generation” and you need to add other technologies to support renewables.
The solution isn’t coal, though – it’s storage.
It can also mean adding other dispatchable renewables, Graham said, such as solar thermal and geothermal technology.
As the modelling gets close to or up to 100 per cent, “very, very high battery deployment” has been the answer as well as technologies like biogas.
Graham says the difficulty lies in the energy balancing, which would need to be done on a half-hour basis. Graham says synchronous condensers and more advanced inverters for the battery technologies would help.
There are engineering solutions for lots of different levels of renewable penetration, Graham says.
“The only uncertainty is that we have not actually seen them deployed, but, in theory and in simulation and modelling, there do appear to be solutions going forward to achieve whatever is desirable.”
When asked to clarify that technical capabilities are not a problem for achieving 100 per cent renewables, Graham replied:
“Yes, that is correct. There are some aspects of that that we have not explored and some aspects that we have.
“A lot of that is outlined in the recent work with the Energy Networks Australia report around the Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap, where we have highlighted things such as that it would be useful if we had price signalling and communication between technologies down at the distribution end of the market and up into the wholesale market.
There are number of barriers that could be removed that would support a higher penetration of renewables. I will not try to list them all, but certainly I take the direction of your question, and the answer is yes.”