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Mike Cannon-Brookes

Renewables in Australia : A Hot Topic

There is growing frustration in Australia with a reduction in investments for renewable energy generation over the last year, and many projects suffering from their inability to connect to the grid.1

According to reneweconomy.com.auThe Australian Energy Market Operator has advised the owners, developers and contractors that new projects in the West Murray region of Victoria’s grid will only be connected one at a time, as a result of “system strength” issues that have already resulted in the output of five existing solar farms being reduced by half.

In laymans terms, Australia is either producing, or can produce a lot of renewable power, but the Australian electrical grid infrastructure is not strong enough to get this power to consumers and industry. A solution needs commitment both short and long term for Australia to reduce its reliance on coal powered electricity, and to improve country wide supply.

But this is not just an Australian problem, this is a global issue for countries as EV’s, IOT, 5G and ravenous Data Centres demand more from our power supply. Add to that the decommissioning of coal and nuclear, and we have a combined problem of decentralised supply as more renewables come online. McKinsey forecast electricity consumption to double by 2050, with renewables expected to make up 50% of energy production by 2035.4

So we need to strengthen the grid for more capacity, as well as preparing for decentralised supply from solar, wind and other renewable options. Keeping in mind that more supply options means more competition and ultimately more competitive pricing for consumers and 

In an interview with the ABC, Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes2 reiterated, “the technology we need, we have today”. However this is not going to be solved with one magic bullet, it needs to be a combination of things. What is needed is a more accelerated timeline and importantly less politics and more commitment. 

A leading capacity issue highlighted in the lightly named document “Power system limitations in North Western Victoria and South Western New South Wales” from the Australian regulator, AEMO, highlights thermal limitations in power lines and transformers. 

At Flexegraph, we have been working on high voltage solutions and believe we can be part of the solution. A lot of the HVDC and transmission infrastructure is liquid cooled. We have shown we can improve the thermal capacity of these systems in excess of 25%… this means both getting more power out of existing systems and contributing to their longevity, but also to potential redesign of transmission solutions for more output.

Let’s see how we progress, watch this space!

  1. https://reneweconomy.com.au/cec-calls-for-action-on-grid-issues-as-renewables-investment-cut-in-half-28289/
  2. https://twitter.com/RadioNational/status/1230363790274777089
  3. https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Electricity/NEM/Network_Connections/Power-System-Limitations-December.pdf