Power generation capacity in the South West grid will need to increase 10-fold by 2042 to meet anticipated demand linked to decarbonisation, according to a report from the State Government.
The South West Interconnected System Demand Assessment collated industry data to understand the potential change in electricity demand, considering the requirements of existing industrial users on the SWIS and potential growth in new industries such as hydrogen and critical minerals.
The assessment modelled four scenarios: extreme growth, high growth, future-ready and base growth.
The Future Ready scenario found peak demand would almost triple by 2042, requiring 10 times the current amount of generation and storage capacity.
It suggested an additional 7.2GW of new industry electricity demand would occur in the SWIS by 2042, which could require up to 51.1GW of new generation and storage capacity.
Releasing the report, Energy Minister Bill Johnston said it provided a vision of what the future grid might look like as the industry sought to decarbonise.
The new capacity would mostly comprise new wind and solar as the most commercially viable technologies available now, with significant amounts of storage required
to firm the intermittent generation from these sources.
Minister Johnston said the main difference between the high growth and future-ready scenarios was how quickly demand from new industries (particularly hydrogen
production) connected to the SWIS.
“The task force chose Future Ready as the principal scenario on which to do the detailed analysis, considering that this scenario represents a reasonable balance
between demand associated with existing industries and potential new industries,” he said.
"An expanded grid is the most cost-efficient way of supporting decarbonisation as it can reach further for wind and solar.
“The SWIS cannot rely on other electricity systems to support it, so having a strong transmission backbone is critical for reliable supply.”
The modelling indicated more than 4000km of new network could be required to connect industrial users with new renewable energy projects and unlock constrained
areas of the SWIS.
The Government has allocated $126 million for Western Power to start planning works in the northern, central, southern and eastern corridors of the SWIS, reflecting
the highest anticipated growth areas.
Development of the northern corridor is an early priority to remove constraints that limit the output from existing wind generators and allow access to some of the
world’s best wind resources.
This would include building a new line from the metropolitan area to Neerabup and converting the existing line between Neerabup and Mid West from 132 kV to 330 kV.
The funding will support planning and purchase of long-lead items for initial upgrades in the north network, which is expected to see a boom in new energy projects,
as well as upgrades in the east network.
Mr Johnston said the State Government would work with industrial users to determine their investment in the State-owned network.
This engagement sought to ensure the cost of new network infrastructure to meet industry green energy demands was not passed onto household energy consumers.
The assessment said the modelling shows new renewable generation will need to be installed across the SWIS, as well as in areas with high-quality renewable resources
outside the existing SWIS footprint.
“The most cost-effective way of accessing these areas is by establishing renewable generation hubs,” the report said.
“This could be a new concept for the SWIS where clusters of renewable generation would be located in places where the wind and/or sun resources complement
the connection of other renewable generation across the grid and support a constant supply of renewable electricity.
“A future-ready transmission network is critical to deliver Western Australia's world-class wind and solar resources to major loads.
“The scale of work required is unprecedented, reflecting the nature of how electricity will be generated in a clean energy future.
“Given the magnitude and urgency of the task, planning for those network investments that would be required under all demand scenarios will commence immediately
through Western Power.”