Whole of System Plan to transform WA’s energy landscape

The Western Australian energy sector is undergoing an unprecedented change. As a part of it, the Energy Transformation Taskforce of WA has developed a Whole of System Plan for the South West Interconnected System, to identify opportunities for a safe, reliable and efficient power system into the future. It provides a 20-year outlook on the future of the main electricity system – the South West Interconnected System.

Western Power is the Western Australian State Government-owned corporation that delivers safe, reliable & affordable energy supply to the WA community. They are responsible for planning the development of their network. Western Power is regulated by independent bodies like Economic Regulation Authority (ERA), Building and Energy, Energy Policy WA, and Australia Energy Market Operator (AMEO)

Though these authorities have a good track record, there is a dearth of a single entity responsible for planning, managing, and distributing the electricity sources. Such a body will be able to provide clear information for investors and planners and guide the development of the power system of the future.

As a response to these needs of the hour, the Government developed a Whole of System Plan so as to bring the important aspects of power system planning under a single roof.

The Whole of System Plan has been developed by the State Government’s Energy Transformation Taskforce, with detailed input from Western Power and the Australian Energy Market Operator, and broad engagement with industry.

The Whole of System Plan for the South West will:

  • identify the best options for investment in the power system
  • assist in the transition to a lower-emissions power system
  • provide guidance to regulators and industry regarding efficient power system investment
  • guide policymakers on the future needs of the power system.

WOSP reveals that over a period of 20 years, renewable energy is expected to triple in WA. Strong uptake of wind energy will make this possible. Rooftop PV will displace coal as well as large-scale solar, while battery storage is increasingly deployed to help stabilize the system. Coal-fired generation declines under all paths, and partially exits the market in the mid-2020s in the low demand growth scenarios.

Renewable energy sources, including the 300,000 households with rooftop solar, account for over 20 percent of the annual electricity generated in the SWIS. WOSP will pave way for a concrete government agenda for renewable energy infrastructure and its operation will provide grid stability for the businesses and communities of WA.

Battery storage will also play an integral part in WA’s future. Mc Gowan Government is all set to construct WA’s biggest battery, to strengthen its power system. The 100 MW battery will be located at Synergy’s Kwinana Power Station. This battery will support the uptake of renewables and long term grid stability. It will be the size of 22 tennis courts and will be Australia’s second-biggest battery. This battery is expected to be operational by September 2022.

An initial $15million of Commonwealth funding has been secured for this project. The Energy Minister, with support from Energy Policy WA, is currently in discussions with the Commonwealth Government regarding further funding for the project. A final decision of big battery will be made later this year.

“The McGowan Government continues to transform the energy landscape for all Western Australians. This Whole of System Plan will play an integral part in the state’s transition towards a low carbon future,” Energy Minister Bill Johnston said.

WOSP is the most comprehensive modeling study ever undertaken into the future of WA’s electricity system and it will support the transition to low-cost electricity. The plan models four scenarios detailing how changes in demand, technology, and the economy may shape the way state uses electricity ad guide the investments over the coming decades to achieve the lowest-cost, lower-emissions electricity

The coal-fired generation will decline under all four scenarios in the WOSP modeling, and the emissions intensity of electricity production also will decrease in all. Under all four scenarios, wind generation is the preferred form of large-scale capacity, ranging from an additional 60GW to 3,002MW by 2030, while new storage capacity is expected to be between 187MW and 2,235MW.

WA has world-class wind resources, Perth being officially the third windiest capital in the world. Wind power is currently the cheapest source of large scale renewable energy. With its immense potential for wind energy, WA can integrate this endless source of energy to the grid so that WA customers will have better access to cleaner and greener energy.

When it comes to renewable energy, WA lagged much behind eastern states. Now WA is taking great efforts to increase the role of renewable energy and has come a long way. With one in three households having rooftop solar, Mr. Thornton congratulated the WA government for its strenuous efforts to embrace clean energy. Rooftop solar is expected to rise to 50 percent of households by 2030.

Industry welcomes WA’s Whole of System Plan.  The Australia Energy Market Operator, Energy Networks Australia, and the clean Energy Council have all welcomed the launch of WOSP.

The Australia Energy Market Operator (AMEO) Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Audrey Zielma said, “WA’s energy system continues to rapidly transform as investment increases in rooftop solar and household devices that store energy, including batteries.” AEMO extended its support to help deliver low-cost and secure energy for the future.

Andrew Dillon, CEO of Energy Networks Australia, said the Western Australia Government was to be congratulated for developing the comprehensive roadmap to support WA’s renewable energy transition. The comprehensive plan is a vital part of ensuring WA’s customers get maximum benefit for lower carbon emission.”

“It has resulted in a rapid transformation across both small and large scale renewable energy and most recently plans were unveiled for a 100MW big battery to help stabilize the state’s energy needs”, said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton.

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) also welcomed WA’s Whole of System Plan, stating it recognized the ongoing role of natural gas to power the state’s “way of life”.

Led by the Energy Transformation Taskforce, the initial Whole of System Plan will leverage recent modeling of the generation mix in the southwest of the State. It will be developed in close collaboration with Western Power and AEMO, and in consultation with stakeholders.