The Future of Australian Electricity Generation

Engineers Australia sounds the alarm over the nation’s electricity gridlock

A new report from Engineers Australia calls for a national transition plan for the country’s electricity sector as a matter of urgency – and warns without one – the next generation of electricity will be either very dirty, very expensive or very unreliable.

The Future of Australian Electricity Generation report, says time is running out with a rapidly looming end date for establishing a secure and cheap supply of electricity.

Engineers Australia’s electricity spokesman Mark Lendich, says Australia has one of the oldest and least efficient power generation fleets in the OECD.

‘Around 70% of our thermal generation needs to be replaced in the next decade. We need a properly engineered system to take over. This will not be cheap or straightforward but it is an unavoidable reality.’

Mark Lendich says people’s livelihoods are at stake.

‘Workers at power stations that are closing will need to be retrained and new skills developed to allow a shift to lower emissions options and the new jobs that will be created because of this.’       

‘Around 70% of our thermal generation needs to be replaced in the next decade. We need a properly engineered system to take over.

The report acknowledges that modernising the grid will take 15-20 years, the technology mix – as it evolves - will vary over time - and wind, solar and improvements to energy efficiency will all play a significant role.

The report also recommends the transition plan include

  • The determination the government achieves its emissions reduction target for 2030

  • Outline how it will achieve this recognising our coal plants are rapidly approaching their use by date and amongst the oldest in the OECD

  • Establish a consistent policy framework and rules to encourage the take up of renewable and other low or zero emissions technologies that are compatible and build on the current grid and off grid options. 

  • Have a regular review structure in place that takes into account changing economics and policies

Electricity supply is essential to modern life but also one of the biggest contributors to global warming.

There is a trifecta in supply – it needs to be secure, affordable and with low emissions. This report acknowledges that there is currently no single energy source that can provide all three today but many are likely to be needed as the country transitions to a renewable and modern grid. 

Engineers Australia argues that it is also vital that the transition planning body include input from consumers and engineers as well as the environmental, legal and financial sectors.

The Future of Australian Electricity Generation.pdf