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Sunny outlook: EY’s Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index ranked Australia as the fourth most investment attractive destination in the world in May


While projectsmay be announced in droves


and receive approval, developers cannot always obtain a connection agreement due to low capacity, however, and only one project in 10 reaches a financial close. This is because the grid was designed to


accommodate coal-fired power stations deliver- ing energy to local heavy-demand urban cen- tres and so built with low capacity transmis- sion. Mr Dixon explains that one grid extends about 3000km, from Townsville in north Queensland to Hobart in Tasmania (a greater distance than Madrid to Oslo), to serve 10 to 15 million paying customers. By contrast, Australia’s potential for renew-


able energy generation stems from its non-pop- ulated areas, either outside of capital cities or in the outback, and so such projects require high capacity transmission. “The design of the grid is now completely flipped, in the sense that these regional areas are typically the ones with the best solar and wind resources, and now we want a grid system where we need to get high capacity lines from these centres to the capital cities,” Mr Dixon says. An alternative solution to overhauling the


power grid is to export this energy – the ques- tion is howand in what formit can be exported. The Asian Renewable Energy Hub in Western Australia aims to generate 15GW of renewable energy for both domestic and export markets, such as Japan and Korea, the bulk ofwhich will take the form of green hydrogen. The Tennant Creek solar farmin Darwin will plant a subsea


August/September 2020 www.fDiIntelligence.com


cable to transmit themajoritymost of its gener- ated electricity to Singapore. These kinds of pro- jects may well define the country’s renewable energy future, analysts say.


Someoptimism Elsewhere, the Clean Council Energy Outlook Confidence Index, which surveys senior leaders from across the clean energy industry, rose to a high of 7.3 out 10 in June 2020, having sunk to a lowof 6.1 in December 2019. Andrew Stock, energy expert and climate


councillor at the Climate Council, notes that while the “race to the palace” that characterised the renewables rush in 2018 is over, there are still reasons for optimism. It only takes one large coal generator to fail in order to freeup capacity, he says, as he expects international developers and politicians to be attuned to howrenewables are set to “eat into the profitability of the large coal plants”. Meanwhile, the concerns in the fossil fuel


industry overmaintenance costs and small mar- gins due to low energy prices do not bode well for the survival of coal enterprises. “Certainly among OECD economies,


Australia increasingly is being viewed as a fossil fuel hold-out,” saysMrKiernanat the EIU. “In the Australian context, the resistance to the energy transition is perhaps predictable, given the fact that Australia is a significant coal and gas exporter, but a far-sighted energy strategywould involve future-proofing the Australian economy fromdependence on fossil fuel exports.”■


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