Australia’s energy grid isn’t prepared for extreme heat

10.02.17 By
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The Climate Council is calling for Australia’s energy system to be overhauled, in a bid to ensure reliable power in the face of severe heatwaves and other extreme climate change driven weather.

Climate Councillor and energy expert, Andrew Stock said load shedding in South Australia and now in New South Wales, one of Australia’s biggest coal power states, shows the system is crumbling under the pressure.

“Government has had years to prepare strong climate and energy policies. It’s critical that Government focus on bringing our ageing and polluting energy system into the 21st Century,” said Mr Stock an energy expert with more than 40 years’ experience.

Mr Stock said Australia is in desperate need of a decentralised energy network in order to offer peoplesecure and reliable power while facing extreme weatherlike rolling heatwaves and violent storms.

“Highly centralised systems can’t adapt to the rapidly changing physical environment we’re experiencing with more and more severe weather. And huge old fossil power stations can’t adapt quickly to rapidly developing clean technology, which is being embraced globally – but not in Australia.”

“Instead of putting our eggs in the coal basket, it is far better to modernise our system for the challenges of the 21st Century, using clean renewable energy and storage technologies than don’t exacerbate climate change.”

Mr Stock said its clear the current energy system is on the cusp of failing when power stations are available but don’t run because the system operator does not dispatch them or owners withhold them for commercial reasons. This forces load shedding, placing the health of Australians at risk in worsening climate extremes.

“Load shedding on a day exceeding 40 degrees is extremely dangerous, especially for old, young and ill people who are particularly vulnerable in such heat. Doing this is actually putting lives at risk.”

Australia’s new energy system must drive dramaticallylower emissions to reduce extreme weather risks in future, and so we meet our international commitment to the Paris Agreement.

“The energy system must drive to zero emissions and fast. There are technologies that can do it. Instead of politicians bickering, they should be providing the certainty needed so engineers can design and build a system that’s clean, reliable, secure and fit for the 21stCentury. Otherwise the result will be an absolute train wreck.”

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