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Q+A panelists back Labour’s grand plan to rewire the grid, but warn ‘it won’t be easy’

It will be a bumpy and challenging road, but Q+A panelists have supported Labour’s ambitious, grand plan to rewire the country’s energy grid.

As Australia continues to wade through a national crisis that has put the wholesale electricity market on hold, Energy Secretary Chris Bowen said on Thursday the government will stand by it and seek to radically improve transmission in Australia by adding significantly more renewable energy to the grid. Close .

“We need to build 10,000km more transmission lines, we need to increase our storage nine times and that is a huge challenge… and we need to keep going,” said Mr Bowen.

Huge challenge

But the task will not be easy, and the nation is entering one of the most challenging points of the cleaner energy transition, according to members of the panel hosted by Virginia Trioli.

Sarah McNamara, CEO of the Australian Energy Council, said it will be difficult to connect the vast amounts of clean energy sources that are coming online.

†[We need] to support renewables coming online and recognizing that we also now have a lot more distributed energy resources, people in their homes, if you have solar on your roof, you essentially become a generator in our grid as well, that’s a huge challenge and that is a major overhaul of this complex machine that is our network,” she said.

Scientist Saul Griffith said the country is way behind where it should be when it comes to modernizing the network.

“We’re trying to take a system designed for a few dozen generators, where we’ll have more than 10 million, we’ll have 30 million batteries on wheels,” he said.

Chris Bowen against a Q+A backdrop in a light gray suit.
Energy Secretary Chris Bowen said 10,000km more transmission lines are needed.Q+A

Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute said the rewiring plan will be one of the most challenging in the country’s history and currently Australia does not have the equipment or labor to pull it off.

Reviewing how the Australian energy market works

The panelists hoped the current energy crisis would spark the political will to see a massive shift in the way the Australian energy market works.

dr. Griffith said the government should look at increasing investment in households to ensure they are part of the shift.

“I think of Australia’s 10 million households as national infrastructure… we have to fund Australia’s households with the same preferential financing that we give infrastructure in Australia and you have to think of our cars and homes the same way we think of Snowy 2.0 .”

Another consensus in the panel was reached when the discussion revolved around the current grid, and the fact that it just doesn’t work.

Sarah McNamara said the system had served Australia well, but faced its ultimate challenge and a “perfect storm” of events that left it unable to cope.

The often controversial topic of taxing generators was brought up by newly elected independent Zoe Daniel, who suggested taxing power producers if the price of gas skyrockets.

Demand for Australian gas rose when war broke out in Ukraine, as Russia is one of the world’s largest gas producers.

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Ms Daniel suggested that the generators could be charged with the difference of what the companies were making before the conflict.

“Think about how much money that might mean and consider what that might mean to put solar on rooftops and create this electrification that we’re talking about,” she said.

dr. Griffith agreed, stating, “We need to make sure that today’s problem is solved for decades to come.”

He added that Norway had used taxes on profits from gas exports to subsidize the switch to electric vehicles.

But Ms. McNamara, who represents the generators and power stores, said such a task would be difficult.

“It is very difficult for governments to retroactively apply taxes and controls to resources already exported abroad under long-term contracts,” she said.

The panel agreed that reducing emissions was the ultimate goal, but there was still a long way to go before it could become a reality.

Watch the full episode on iview or via the Q+A Facebook page.

Posted updated

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