Building a national power grid to ‘follow the sun’ rejected as ‘impossible’

One idea to prevent more power outages in Australia could cause electricity prices to fall, but one state has dismissed it as “impossible”.

Building a national power grid that would “follow the sun” and take advantage of Australia’s four time zones could help solve our energy problems, but the idea was dismissed as “practically impossible”.

Eastern states have struggled with power supply reliability issues, with power outages in Queensland and New South Wales most recently this year, and experts are looking for long-term solutions as the system switches to renewables.

In particular, to stabilize the system, outgoing and longer storage may be required, which can last at least 10-12 hours and up to several days or even weeks.

However, Hitachi Energy CEO Claudio Facchin noted that providing storage such as batteries was not the only solution and Australia could also consider other ways to manage its energy system.

“We have four time zones in Australia, so follow the sun, it will give you a lot of built-in storage throughout the system,” Mr. Fakchin said. Sydney Energy Forum on Tuesday.

By creating a single national grid, this will allow the eastern states to receive solar energy from Western Australia, which is two hours behind New South Wales, during the “evening rise”, when energy consumption usually peaks when people return home from work, relax. cook dinner and watch TV or do other things.

“If you had a connection to the west, the sun would still be relatively high in the sky, so you could use solar energy from the west to power the homes and industries of people in the east. It would really help you get through the evening ramp,” former AEMO System Executive General Manager Alex Vonhas told News.com.au.

However, Mr Vonhas acknowledged that the arrangement is likely to benefit the eastern states more than Western Australia, although the WA will benefit less during the morning rise, which is usually a less energy-intensive period.

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Western America, which hasn’t faced the same reliability or cost issues as the eastern states, also doesn’t seem to want to be part of the national grid.

“It would be virtually impossible and extremely expensive for Western Australia to join the national grid,” a spokesman for Western Australia’s energy minister, Bill Johnston, told news.com.au.

“That would create even more power supply security problems for our state.”

The spokesman said that Western Australia’s main power grid is larger than the size of the United Kingdom and has a grid reliability of 99.91%, adding that “no power company in the world is 100% reliable”.

He said that Western Power and Horizon Power are deploying microgrids to improve power supply reliability, and 1,000 off-grids are currently deployed in the WA region.

Chris Bowen, spokesman for the federal secretary of energy and climate change, said the national grid was not deemed “optimal”.

“In Australia, the optimal path forward for transmission upgrades to provide the best benefits to the community is the Integrated System Plan (ISP), which does not include such a proposal as optimal,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesman said the Albanian government’s $20 billion investment in Rewiring the Nation was for an urgent upgrade and exit from the network.

“The national energy market is undergoing unprecedented change and needs investment in transmission and planning to ensure reliability and affordability through these changes.”

Mr. Vonhas said that a national grid is possible, but it may not be the most affordable way to ensure a reliable supply of electricity.

He said building a long transmission line between WA and the eastern states could cost billions and would likely be more expensive than building more batteries in the east.

“Over the years, this issue has been addressed, but the economic benefits have not accumulated in the past – this does not mean that they will not accumulate in the future,” Mr. Vonhas said.

“What we need is for AEMO to do a cost-benefit assessment so we get a clearer idea of ​​whether it makes sense to continue.”

However, Mr Vonhas said WA could benefit from the project as it would mean more investment in solar energy in the west as well as more jobs.

The challenge will be to reach an agreement among the states on how much funding each will contribute to the project, as well as to find a way to harmonize the various regulatory and market mechanisms.

“In addition to capital costs, I think this will reduce the need for storage and ultimately the cost of electricity bills for consumers, as well as create jobs during the construction phase as well as during the operation phase,” said Mr Vonhas.

However, Mr Vonhas said the east-west transmission line could take at least 10 years to build, based on how long shorter transmission projects have taken.

By comparison, he said the battery project could be completed relatively comfortably in a year and a half to two years.

“Now we need managed storage – as we’ve seen in the last few weeks,” he said.

Originally published as Building a national power grid to ‘follow the sun’ rejected as ‘impossible’