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[Episode #39] – Transition in Australia

Australia has the highest proportion of households with rooftop solar PV systems of any country in the world. It also has the second-dirtiest grid in the world, getting three-quarters of its power from coal. As such, Australia might as well be the global poster child of energy transition, with both a huge load of dirty power plants it needs to retire, and a huge set of distributed and variable solar and wind systems that it needs to integrate into its power grid, while keeping everything balanced, without being able to import or export electricity from other nations. It’s a fascinating case study in wholesale markets, renewable incentives, technical balancing issues, and yes, acrimonious political debate between Browns and Greens. To help us understand this complex picture, we speak with Dr. Jenny Riesz, a Principal at the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the operator of Australia’s largest gas and electricity markets and power systems. Dr. Riesz works on adapting AEMO’s processes and functions to ensure ongoing security and reliability as the power system transitions to renewables, and leads its work program on matters such as frequency control, analysis on declining inertia, and possible solutions such as Fast Frequency Response.

Geek rating: 9

Guest: Dr. Jenny Riesz is a Principal at the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).  She is in the Future Power System Security program, working on adapting AEMO’s processes and functions to ensure ongoing security and reliability, as the power system transforms over the coming decades.  Prior to this, she was a research associate at the University of New South Wales, modelling energy markets for 100% renewable power systems, and a specialist in modelling renewables and climate policy at ROAM Consulting.

On Twitter: @jennyriesz

On the Web:

Recording date: March 2, 2017

Air date: March 22, 2017


Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO): Future Power System Security Program – Reports and Analysis

Dr. Jenny Riesz’s peer reviewed journal articles

Riesz, C. Sotiriadis, P. Vithayasrichareon, J. Gilmore (2016) “Quantifying key uncertainties in the costs of nuclear power“, International Journal of Energy Research, 13 July 2016.

Riesz, C. Sotiriadis, D. Ambach, S. Donovan (2016) “Quantifying the costs of a rapid transition to electric vehicles“, Applied Energy,18, p. 287-300.

Riesz, B. Elliston (2016) “Research and Deployment Priorities for Renewable Technologies: Quantifying the importance of various renewable technologies for low cost, high renewable electricity systems in an Australian case study“, Energy Policy, 98, p. 298-308.

Elliston, J. Riesz, I. MacGill (2016) “What cost for more renewables? The incremental cost of renewable generation – an Australian National Electricity Market case study“, Renewable Energy,95, p.127-139.

AEMO, Black System South Australia 28 September 2016 – Third Preliminary Report. (Dec 2016)

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy: Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market

Mark Kenny, “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and ministers were told wind not to blame for South Australia blackout,” The Sydney Morning Herald. (Feb 13, 2017)

Giles Parkinson, “SA blackouts: dud forecasts, lousy software, failing gas plants,” Renew Economy. (Feb 16, 2017)

Michael Slezak, “South Australia's blackout explained (and no, renewables aren't to blame),” The Guardian. (Sep 28, 2016)

Giles Parkinson, “SA blackouts: dud forecasts, lousy software, failing gas plants,” Renew Economy. (Feb 16, 2017)

Ian Verrender, “The simple truth: Coal-fired generators have no future in Australia,” ABC News. (Feb 13, 2017)

The Conversation: “FactCheck Q&A: is Australia the world leader in household solar power?” (Mar 27, 2016)

AGL press release: “AGL opens stage two of the virtual power plant ahead of schedule.” (Dec 15, 2016)

Tristan Edis, “Government 'clean coal' push would be likely to make Australia's emissions worse,” The Guardian. (Feb 20, 2017)

Paul Graham, “Australians can have zero-emission electricity, without blowing the bill,” Energy Post. (Jan 6, 2017)

Giles Parkinson, “Rooftop solar saved the day, but households got paid a pittance,” Renew Economy. (Feb 14, 2017)

Giles Parkinson, “High energy prices? Blame fossil fuel generators, not renewables,” Renew Economy. (Feb 8, 2017)

Chris Nelder, “The Perils of Electricity Capacity Markets,” Greentech Media. (Sep 4, 2013)

Sophie Vorrath, “German battery maker to offer ‘free power’ for slice of Australian electricity market,” One Step Off the Grid. (Feb 22, 2017)

Sophie Vorrath, “Tesla launches Powerwall 2, says all solar homes will have storage,” Renew Economy. (Mar 9, 2017)

Australian Associated Press, “Fire hits Torrens power station as South Australia warned of further blackouts,” The Guardian. (Mar 3, 2017)

Giles Parkinson, "Ex Hazelwood boss says solar + storage already cheaper than gas," Renew Economy. (Mar 21, 2017)

Bob Berwyn, “Massive Permafrost Thaw Documented in Canada, Portends Huge Carbon Release,” Inside Climate News. (Feb 28, 2017)

Giles Parkinson, “EnergyAustralia signs PPA for 142MW solar farm in Queensland,” Renew Economy. (Feb 6, 2017)

Tom Gnau, “ODOT chief: Ohio will create roads of the future,” Dayton Daily News. (Feb. 14, 2017)

Corvus Energy press release: “Corvus Energy Powers First LNG-Battery Hybrid Cargo Ferry in North America.” (Dec 13, 2016)

Saudis kick off $50 billion renewable energy plan to cut oil use,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance. (Feb 20, 2017)

Krysti Shallenberger, “Arizona Public Service, solar industry reach critical rate case settlement,” Utility Dive. (Mar 1, 2017)

And for dessert... Clarke and Dawe - The Energy Market Explained