Australian energy boss believes renewables can deliver the holy grail

Reliable, safe, cost-effective and clean are all achievable from a renewables grid…at the same time.

According to Audrey Zibelman, CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator, consumers can have their energy cake and eat it when it comes to renewables. 

Speaking at a University of New South Wales conference, Zibleman was reported as saying: “We are looking at how to manage the system to be more resilient as well as…cost effective and carbon neutral, or zero carbon…(they) are not necessarily antithetical. Nor is having renewable resources and having a reliable and secure system antithetical. In fact, you can have it all.”

Putting a strong case for renewable energy comes at a time when the Australian Government has re-stated its support for coal-based and other ‘traditional’ forms of power generation, through its recently-announced Underwriting New Generation Investment programme.

Zibelman recognised that the task of transitioning the country’s power supply from current generation sources to renewables would not happen overnight.  However, she emphasised the need to move from the pilot phase of distributed energy and battery projects, to a rapid and significant increase in new forms of energy production and distribution.

Upscaling the grid

She stated: “We are going from managing around 300 power plants, to millions of bits of different resources.  This is not a question of replacing one thing and doing a pilot or a demonstration. It is now time to get to scale quickly.”

She added, “the ability to get into the market is really complicated. We need to think about policies that allow quick entry and avoid the valley of death of so much innovation. How to make it easier rather than harder is going to be very important.”

One of the major challenges that face many Australian consumers, particularly in more remote areas, is the security and reliability of supply. According to Zimbelman, new technologies – such as microgrid development - ensure this, while at the same time delivering power cost-effectively.