Abstract for: Beyond the Death Spiral - Transitioning to Renewable Energy in Western Australia

Model based projections for the rapid uptake of rooftop solar photovoltaics in Western Australia indicate that private capacity will be so large that the centralised network based electricity system will become disrupted in the 2020s. By 2050 private systems may produce around 85- 90% of projected electricity demands. In the interim period it may be more economically viable to avoid introducing large scale renewable energy to the network while planning for a completely renewable system by 2050 when rooftop solar approaches saturation levels. By 2050 it is projected that only around 2,250 MW of large scale renewable energy will be needed to complement private solar PV, optimally in the form of wind energy, or a combination of wind and wave energy. In order to avoid very large storages it will be necessary to retain fast response thermal generation, most likely using state of the art open cycle gas turbines fuelled by renewable sources such as biogas from organic wastes. The network will likely require around 32,000 MWh of energy storage to complement the private storage by 2050, with pumped hydro utilising Perth’s water supply dams, a potential source.