"Cold-headed policy," not "panic and politicking," is the answer to Australia's future energy issues, a new report has found.
But the government's subscription of new investments in power generation, an important Coalition energy policy, may hamper, not help, the attempt to strengthen the network's reliability, researchers warned, scorning "potential genuine investors."
Instead, researchers at the Grattan Institute have recommended, among other things, better management of Australia's existing energy supply distribution by encouraging Australians to invest in their own supplies, as technology for storing renewable energy such as solar , becomes cheaper. , among potential solutions to the nation's future power problems.
The report comes as the government tries to approve what is left of its legislation, which, after passing through some federal courts, would give the Energy Minister of that time the potential to allocate electricity companies to be divested if they were found. be abusing its market power for price manipulation.
Researchers at the Grattan Institute have reviewed the last 10 years of Australia's energy problems and the potential for future problems as the former coal-fired power plants go live and found problems with energy transportation to be the "overwhelming source" of Australia's reliability problems. meeting.
But it also warned that it would not always be so if policymakers did not find a sustainable and sensible solution to keep supply that was not dependent on "false narratives," as renewable energy sources were to blame for blackouts.
The report looked at the massive blackout across South Australia in 2016, after which researchers found that reports of power blackouts have increased by up to 10 times despite the actual number of power outages remaining stable.
"The overwhelming source of interruptions are problems in energy transport; has nothing to do with the fact that energy has been generated from renewable sources or coal, or some other technology, "the Grattan researchers concluded.
"Over the past 10 years, more than 97 percent of downtime has been attributable to problems with local poles and cables that carry energy to homes and businesses.
"If we react to the wrong information, we are likely to increase the cost of electricity while at the same time having little or no impact on reliability."
The blackout of southern Australia, which led to the failure of the entire state network, was the result of several factors, including tornado damage on high voltage lines, wind farms disconnected from the grid due to heavy disturbances and the disconnection of the Heywood Victorian interconnection. .
South Australia's power plants suffered from lightning, delaying attempts to restore energy at the local level, which meant that power had to be reconnected by Victoria, which took longer.
But blame was immediately raised against the renewable energy pressure from the state's labor government, leading to an energy policy debate that helped topple Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister and seems poised to continue in the next election.
Workers have committed to increasing investment in renewable energy technologies, while the Coalition maintains a "technology neutrality approach," which includes new coal-fired power stations, as long as it reduces costs.
Recent heatwaves across eastern Australia have come with warnings of potential energy grid overhead, leading to new demands for "reliable base load energy," particularly from coal proponents.
The Grattan report found that only 0.1% of blackouts in the last 10 years during extreme weather were the result of a lack of power generation.
But the report also acknowledged that as power plants like Liddell and Hazlewood reached the end of their life cycle and were deactivated, more pressure would be placed on the grid to meet demand.
But they warned that "cold-headed politics" not "panic and politicking" was needed to ensure Australia remained connected.
"As older coal generators are closed and summer heat waves become more severe, disruptions will increase unless investment in the new supply continues," he said.
"A stable policy framework to reduce emissions and ensure that retailers have sufficient supply will encourage this investment and keep this problem rare.
"Other reforms, such as a centralized market, or direct government intervention to support investment are not necessary.
"… Increasing renewable generation creates challenges for an aging power system. But energy market authorities have taken significant steps since the SA blackout to prepare the grid for a future with much more wind and solar generation. "