It is often claimed that the introduction of renewable energy sources has made Australia’s electricity supply less reliable, with things only set to get worse, but experts have now declared that those myths are “wrong and dangerous”.
According to a new report, titled ‘Keep calm and carry on’, published by the Grattan Institute, an overwhelming majority of energy blackouts are caused by problems with the transportation of electricity, rather than how the energy was actually generated.
This means that outages, like those which affected Victoria and South Australia last month, can therefore not be blamed on whether the power was generated using new renewables or more traditional sources such as coal.
“Equipment failures, falling trees, inquisitive animals and crashing cars can all cause the power to go out in the local distribution network,” the report reads. “Over the past 10 years, more than 97 per cent of outages across the National Electricity Market could be traced to the poles and wires that transport power to homes and businesses.”
Experts are now warning that these common misconceptions could be “dangerous” for consumers as they may trigger an “over-reaction” from politicians, which in turn could result in a price hike when it comes to paying for electricity.
In January, parts of Victoria and South Australia experienced blackouts due to increased demand on the states’ power grids as a result of the extreme warm weather.
The report claims that the recent events highlight the tight balance between supply and demand, predicting that outages will become more frequent, particularly as old coal generators close and summer heatwaves become more severe, if the country does not invest in new supplies.
“What Australia needs now is not panic and politicking, but cool-headed policy responses to manage electricity reliability without unnecessarily adding to consumer bills,” Grattan Institute’s Energy Program Director Tony Wood said.
“Increased renewable generation does create challenges for managing the power system. But if we keep calm and carry on, these challenges can be met without more big price increases for households and businesses.”