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Australia's path to net zero clearer with renewables focal point of draft AEMO plan

Plans published by Australia’s energy market operator (AEMO) in its draft integrated systems plan (ISP) for 2024 will impact investment and project starts in the industry, with a particular emphasis on the need for increased investment in renewables. 

The draft ISP (87-page / 2.82MB PDF) outlines the changes needed to continue delivering “secure, reliable, and affordable electricity” to the people of Australia. It seeks to support Australia’s highly complex and rapid energy transformation towards net zero emissions as well as to enable low-cost renewable energy and transmission.

Published every two years, the ISP details what, when, where and how much electricity generation, transmission and storage is required in Australia’s national electricity market, setting out guidance to help the energy industry in meeting the current and future needs of people as well as assisting to provide clarity for investment certainty. 

The Clean Energy Council, Australia’s renewable energy industry body, described the document as a “call to action” that establishes an urgent need to support the industry in building new renewable generation and storage; as well as indicating that commitments made at COP28 to triple renewable generation capacity by 2023 are achievable with increased investment in generation, storage and transmission. 

The draft ISP aims to highlight the continued influence of record demand for clean energy technologies, materials, investment and labour supply chains. It also aims to build greater consumer trust in successfully connecting home storage systems for energy, working to drive down bills as energy companies improve ways in which power is generated, stored and used when consumers need it. 

Features include plans to build 10,000 km of new and upgraded transmission infrastructure by 2050, with an estimated 25% of this already under construction and a focus on delivering 50% of the proposed energy infrastructure by 2030, hastening the delivery of this infrastructure in the short term. 

The document also sets out the need for a significant investment increase in new renewable energy to 6GW per year comparted to the 4GW figure listed in the 2022 ISP. A tripling of large-scale variable renewable generation to 57 GW by 2030 is also included, with a further seven-fold increase to 126GW by 2050. Finally, the ISP has brought forward the anticipated retirement of coal-fired power stations in the national electricity market by five years, in line with AEMO predictions the coal industry will decline by approximately half of its current levels by 2030. 

The ISP will now go through a period of consultation before the final form is published on 28 June 2024. 

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