Western Australia’s Energy Plan Unachievable At Any Cost Will Create $52 Billion Black Hole

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22 February 2024
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“Blackouts in Victoria demonstrate what happens when ideology trumps engineering in an energy system. Western Australia is on track to make the very same mistakes as the east-coast, and it will cost the state billions of dollars,” said Dr Kevin You, Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs.

Today, the IPA launched a new research report, Unachievable at Any Cost: Analysis of Western Australia’s Energy Plan, which calculates the impact of the West Australian government’s policy of reducing emissions by 80 per cent from 2020 levels by 2030. The research found:

  • The state government would need to spend more than $52 billion in capital expenditure to replace current affordable and reliable generation with wind and solar in the state’s largest electricity network, the South West Interconnected System, alone.
  • So far just $3.8 billion, or 7 per cent, of the total cost to replace generation in the SWIS has been committed, yet coal generator closures by 2030 are still expected to go ahead.
  • To meet the 80% emission reduction target, the state will need to increase capacity in batteries and wind and solar farms 19-fold, and nearly double rooftop solar on houses. With the ban on nuclear energy still in place, it makes the target practically unachievable.

“What is clear is that, at a minimum, the current, and any future, state government must commit to the operation maintenance of the state’s affordable and reliable coal-fired generation facilities beyond the arbitrary 2030 deadline,” said Dr You.

“Energy security must be at the centre of any future energy plan for Western Australia. The closure of current baseload generation facilities must be dependent solely on replacement baseload generation being ready to be deployed in its place.”

The IPA’s research also estimates the increased risk of blackouts, by modelling the operation of the South West Interconnected System, which found that under any scenario under the plan, more gas will need to be fed into the generation system than the state’s main gas pipeline can accommodate.

“By destroying affordable and reliable baseload energy generation, Greater Perth and the Wheatbelt risk blackouts, which in the worst-case scenario could equate to a period of up to four months total in a year,” said Dr You.

“As wind and solar will require the backup of substantial gas firming capacity, and with Western Australia’s inadequate gas supply capacity and infrastructure, it is a recipe for an economic and social disaster.”

“Renewables have a role to play to top up an energy network’s generation. However, wind and solar remain experimental when applied on a mass scale within in an advanced industrial economy such as Western Australia’s.” “West Australians are in for a rude shock when the reality of the state government’s unachievable plan sets in. And they will pay for this everyday through higher energy bills and reduced state government services, which will need to be sacrificed to service this policy,” said Dr You.

To download the IPA’s research click here.

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