WA sets sights on low carbon economy as it winds up energy taskforce

By Melissa Coade

May 21, 2021

(Image: Adobe/ Elnur)

A taskforce established to respond to the ‘rapid transformation’ of the Western Australian energy sector has been finalised, with an energy policy group to continue the next phase of the state’s low carbon economy transition. 

The changing energy market landscape in WA today is reflected in rooftop panels now installed in one in three households across the state, and the ongoing development of large scale wind and solar farms.

The pace of the state’s transition to a low carbon economy has however proved challenging for the WA power system, with the taskforce producing a number of plans to best place the government support the switch to distributed energy resources. 

WA energy minister Bill Johnston said that when he took on his portfolio, the Australian Energy Market Operator was warning the state was at risk of system blackouts as early as 2022 if WA’s energy issues went ignored. 

“I’m confident Energy Policy WA is now well-prepared to lead the next stage of the energy transformation and focus on integrating new technology into the power system,” Johnston said.

Johnston thanked economist Stephen Edwell, the taskforce chair, for his leadership over the last two years, describing the period as ‘challenging’. As a result of the group’s work, the state government now has a strategy for energy transformation, which it says responds to the ‘unprecedented changes in WA’s energy sector’.

“Congratulations to the energy transformation taskforce for their tremendous work preparing for the imminent challenges ahead as we navigate towards a high-renewable energy future.”

Among the resources the taskforce has delivered include a roadmap to manage the growth of rooftop solar systems into the power system until 2024, a redesign of the wholesale electricity market to improve network access to mostly renewable generators; and a whole of system plan to guide investments that will cater to how the state’s main electricity grid will look in 20 years’ time. 

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