Energy Market Operator shows firmed renewables the path for a cleaner, cheaper, more reliable grid

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) updated energy plan out today shows the lowest-cost way to deliver a secure and reliable grid over coming decades is a renewable grid with hydro, batteries, flexible gas and transmission.

This is exactly the grid the Albanese Government, working with states, territories, industry and community is delivering with Rewiring the Nation, the expanded Capacity Investment Scheme, and the Gas Code.

The Draft 2024 Integrated System Plan (ISP) is independently developed by Australia’s energy market and power systems operator AEMO, in collaboration with over 1,300 critical energy industry and consumer stakeholders.

AEMO’s report shows that households and businesses are rapidly installing clean, cheap solar and electrifying their homes and transport – we need a reliable grid that supports that changing energy profile.

Today’s update shows significant progress, with around a quarter of the previously forecast 10,000 km of new or upgraded necessary transmission build by 2050 already underway to support reliability for households and businesses across the country.

It shows aging coal-fired generation is becoming more unreliable with increasingly frequent unplanned outages, and that the fleet has and will continue to retire earlier than originally announced.

24 coal plants with a total capacity of 26.7 GW announced their closure dates under the last Government, but the LNP failed to deliver any policy to ensure replacement capacity or investment certainty for the infrastructure needed for reliability and affordability through the transition.

In contrast our successful Capacity Investment Scheme is already delivering and has been expanded to ensure delivery of 32GW of new capacity – for the long-term reliable, affordable and low-emissions energy system Australians deserve as our grid changes.

In just 18 months, the Albanese Government has also already delivered Rewiring the Nation deals with NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and WA that are unlocking and keeping a lid on prices for the necessary transmission build.

And we’re delivering on more gas at reasonable prices for Australian users with a Gas Code of Conduct that has already secured supply to the domestic market of at least 300PJ of gas to 2030 – equivalent to five years of east coast gas powered generation demand.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said the government had the right policy and investment settings in place for Australia’s energy future, while the evidence of today’s report lays bare the LNP’s recklessness with Australians’ energy security.

“Today’s updated draft energy plan from AEMO reiterates what we already know, firmed renewable energy is not just clean, it’s the cheapest way to ensure a reliable grid,” Minister Bowen said.

“After ten years of neglect, the task to build our modern grid that supports household and businesses with reliable energy as aging coal exits and solar surges is as urgent as ever.

“While today’s draft forecasts 90% of the increasingly unreliable coal fleet is likely to retire by 2035 – the LNP’s only semblance of a plan is a technology that by their own admission will not be commercial before then – risking energy security for households and industry across the country.

“It’s past time for Dutton and O’Brien to be honest with Australians about how they plan to replace the 90% of aging, and increasingly unreliable coal-fired power generation forecast to close over the next decade - given they have called for a pause on all new renewables and transmission.”

The draft report can be read, and submissions made, here:

Public consultation will be open on the draft ISP until 16 February 2024, with the final report to be released in June.