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Responding to renewables

We painted the changing energy landscape and the NT Government’s plans for 50% renewables by 2030.  You had some questions about this which we have answered below.

You also wanted to understand more about how Power and Water is preparing its plans to help future proof its network.  Power and Water has engaged specialists in different aspects of energy planning, pricing, and network development to ensure that we have access to the most recent ideas and proven solutions.  A summary of what they will be working is also outlined below.

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The big picture

The Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan PDF 4.8MB developed by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade undertook and presented this analysis.

The Plan looked at the costs of achieving 50% renewables by 2030 against not doing anything different to what is happening now.

Jim Mckay Office of Sustainable Energy NT

The Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan PDF 4.8MB undertook this modelling and found that renewables offers the Territory cheaper energy and a potentially vibrant new industry.

The Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan PDF 4.8MB provides the blueprint for the Territory to transition to 50% renewables by 2030.  This Plan details why the emphasis is on solar and the relative costs of alternatives, given the environment and climate of the Northern Territory.

Consideration was given to other renewables – wind, hydro, wave – and solar, together with hydrogen coming on a little later, are the most practical and offer the most opportunities for the Territory.

Jim Mckay Office of Sustainable Energy NT

The Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan PDF 4.8MB identifies that a mix is the most likely scenario, given the existing rapid uptake of domestic solar and the interest in solar farms.

Dean Lombard, Renew

Power and Water is currently exploring what the likely impact of solar farms, domestic solar, electric vehicles and changing customer use of electricity are going to mean for the network.  Power and Water is responsible for ensuring that when energy is needed, it is available, safely and reliably.

Part of the planning for the future is understanding when is the best time to invest – invest too early and customers pay for services they don’t yet use or have; invest too late and it may cost more.  This is one of the big questions we have to work with you on in the next workshops. See our future networks readiness plan for the work we are undertaking now for allowing more solar on the network.

Most research suggests that the most efficient use of solar PV is when customers use the solar output for their own use. That means using it directly when they produce it. Whether they put it into a battery or send it out to the network depends on the arrangement they have with their retailer, how much they're being paid to put it into the network, or how much their battery costs. The goal is to be able to provide customers with all of the options and signals that they can do what is right for them, and they can achieve the best outcome for them.

Future Network

Yes. Power and Water seeks to stay abreast of the rapidly changing innovations and development in the energy sector in a number of ways including:

  • Engaging experts to share their knowledge and insights from working with other networks in Australia and around the world to determine the suitability of new technologies and strategies to the Northern Territory and whether changes are required to reflect unique conditions in the Territory
  • Undertaking research to compare, benchmark and analyse options and solutions that could be applied locally
  • All networks in Australia work together to share information about how they are responding to these same challenges. Power and Water works particularly closely with those networks who are most similar to them either in size and complexity – Ergon Energy in QLD, for example – or in small customer bases spread over large distances – TasNetworks in Tasmania.  This shared learning is helping all networks understand and respond with solutions that work best for their customers. For more information on industry innovation, please read the Energy Networks Australia, Network Innovation 2022 Report PDF 2.2 MB

Power and Water has also, as a result of both the Darwin-Katherine Electricity System Plan PDF 4.8MB and the feedback and suggestions of the People’s Panel, commissioned a number of studies which are looking at:

  • Low Voltage (LV) visibility and hosting study – to identify how better visibility of Power and Water’s network and implementation of dynamic operating envelopes can help to more efficiently integrate and support greater update of solar by customers
  • Distributed Energy Resources (DER) integration strategy – what will more ‘generators’ (solar farms, household solar, community batteries) mean for the network and what does the network need to do to optimise these new resources of energy?
  • Electric vehicle charging impact – what is the likely uptake, rate and impact of electric vehicle charging for Power and Water’s network?
  • Electric vehicle charging roadmap – to identify where on the network and what is required to facilitate the uptake of electric vehicles
  • Community Battery feasibility and pilot - to identify how and where community batteries could work for the network by providing an alternate to network solutions, and a pilot to test this.

Darren Gladman, Clean Energy Council

Darren Gladman, Clean Energy Council

Jo Cruikshank, NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Jo Cruikshank, NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Jo Cruikshank, NT Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics

Mervyn Davis Power and Water Corporation

Mervyn Davis Power and Water Corporation

Andrew Deme, GridQube

Darren Gladman, Clean Energy Council

Jim McKay, Ditt