Entura power expert provides Australian perspective on energy transition to global peers

September 6, 2023

Entura’s Technical Director Power, Donald Vaughan, presented this week at the global CIGRE Symposium in Cairns, Queensland.

CIGRE is a global community of thousands of power systems professionals from over 90 countries. CIGRE hosts an extensive range of local and international events, fostering engagement and knowledge sharing to strengthen electrical expertise and systems across the globe.

The theme of the 2023 CIGRE Symposium was the end-to-end electricity system – including transition, development, operation and integration – and the changes that are necessary to move towards the sustainable power systems of the future.

“The overarching theme of the symposium is the urgency of the transition of our electricity systems towards net zero,” said Donald, “and it’s important that global experts pool their experiences and act decisively to overcome the technological and economic issues involved in this crucial clean energy transformation.”

Donald’s presentation provided an Australian perspective on the role of hydropower and storage technologies in supporting increased variable renewable energy, such as wind and solar PV.

“As we move from predominantly dispatchable sources of power to more variable renewable energy, there is a growing need for firming and/or storage in our power system,” said Donald.

“In the Australian context, the storage required is expected to be around 46 GW by 2050, and it is likely that conventional hydropower as well as pumped hydro and battery energy storage systems can play a role.

“My paper explored how the storage capability of conventional hydro can aid the energy transition and capture value in markets with frequent power supply surpluses and potentially shorter and less-frequent periods of deficit, given that hydro schemes can retain or delay energy release and provide much-needed flexibility in dispatch.

“There will also be a significant role for pumped hydro and battery storage in the clean energy transition. Their contribution will depend on several factors including the amount and composition of variable renewable energy relative to conventional hydropower, the level of demand in the system, and the interconnection capacity,” he said.

Donald’s analysis was based on examples from the hydropower-dominated Tasmanian power system, which has already achieved 100% renewable energy and has a target of 200% renewables by 2040. With increased interconnection to mainland Australia, Tasmania is expected to be able to provide even more clean energy and storage to support the transition of Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) as the country navigates the progressive retirement of the coal fleet.

“Tasmania has the potential to act as a giant battery for Australia, drawing on the flexibility, fast response and storage capacity of hydropower,” said Donald.

Entura is part of Hydro Tasmania, and is helping to deliver Hydro Tasmania’s ‘Battery of the Nation’ initiative, which aims to repurpose an aging hydropower station to operate more flexibly and to add new pumped hydro and interconnection to support the transition of Australia’s National Electricity Market.

Read a summary of Donald’s paper