LAUNCESTON, Australia, Dec 12 (Reuters) – Australia, which vies with Indonesia for the title of the world’s largest coal exporter, is planning for an electricity future where use of the polluting fuel dwindles and is rapidly replaced by renewable energy sources.
The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which controls the country’s largest electricity and natural gas markets, released a report on Thursday outlining the future development of the country’s electricity market. As Christmas approaches, it made for miserly tidings for the coal miners and politicians supporting the industry.
The report said that 63% of Australia’s current coal-fired generation is likely to close by 2040. It will be replaced by a possible tripling of rooftop solar power, as well as pumped hydropower, utility-scale batteries and distributed batteries, which would include households and businesses.
Australia’s current coal-fired fleet supplies about two-thirds of the country’s electricity generation, with hydro and natural gas having about 10% each, and solar about 2.6%.
What the AEMO paper does is predict that this will be turned around in 20 years by adding about 30 gigawatts (GW) of large-scale renewable energy and about 21 GW of what it terms “dispatchable” resources, which include pumped hydro storage and batteries.