Yesterday the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released its Final 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP). The ISP is an integrated roadmap for the efficient development of the National Electricity Market (NEM) over the next 20 years and beyond.
While the direction of the final report was clear in the draft released back in December 2021, there are notable increases in urgency and attention to what needs to happen to earn community acceptance.
The main findings of the ISP remain very similar to those in the Draft 2022 ISP. In the most likely modelled scenario, in the period to 2050, the ISP predicts:
An almost doubling of the electricity delivered to homes and businesses to approximately 320 terawatt hours (TWh) per year. This would allow the electrification of our transport, industry, office and homes, replacing gas, petrol and other fuels
Coal-fired generation withdrawing faster than announced, with 60% of capacity withdrawn by 2030
The need for 9 times the utility-scale wind and solar farms
The need for nearly 5 times the solar PV capacity, and substantial growth in battery storage
The need to treble the firming capacity from dispatchable storage, hydro and gas-fired generation to firm renewables
However, since the Draft ISP was published in December last year there have been some significant changes made. Of note:
- A greater prominence has been given to issues of social licence in the Final 2022 ISP
The Final report supports strong collaboration on land use planning between generation developers, transmission companies, and State Governments to:
Broaden local council, landholder and traditional owner engagement to incorporate community and environmental benefits (including regional economic and jobs growth, emission reductions, and biodiversity habitat and corridors)
Systematically document local concerns and incorporate them in the ISP, REZ Design Report, and local planning processes
Consolidate and align appropriate compensation mechanisms for affected landowners' and communities
Harmonise the infrastructure, policies and objectives across jurisdictions
- AEMO has clarified that actionable projects should be progressed as soon as possible
This goes some way to implementing RE-Alliance’s suggestion that governments could potentially underwrite the pre-planning of all the proposed transmission lines in the ISP.
- HumeLink and VNI West decision rules have been removed
These projects will have staged funding application processes and AEMO will ensure that consumers are protected from increasing project costs.
Reduced transmission build in Far North Queensland
Updated modelling of network losses has weakened the signal for additional investment in generation and transmission. Projects no longer listed as Future ISP Projects include Stage 2 of the Far North Queensland Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) Expansion, the Facilitating Power out of North Queensland and the North Queensland Energy Hub. This may provide comfort to those in Far North Queensland who had concerns about the potential biodiversity impacts associated with this additional transmission build. This may allow time for strengthening of biodiversity protection legislation at state and national levels.
- Additional sensitivities have been undertaken to test lower offshore wind costs and the Victorian Government's offshore wind directions paper
AEMO still finds that without significant cost reductions, no offshore wind development is projected in Victoria in any scenario.
AEMO has consulted extensively with both industry and the community. This has ensured that the Final 2022 ISP is robust and properly reflects the views of all key stakeholders. The increased focus on community acceptance is something we very much welcome. Listening to and consulting with affected communities and landholders by renewable energy generation developers, transmission companies, energy market institutions, and all levels of Government will be crucial to the energy transition as we move forward more quickly than ever.