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Prospects and problems of increasing electricity production from mid-size (<30 MW) renewable energy generation facilities on the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS)

de Balbine, Delphine (2011) Prospects and problems of increasing electricity production from mid-size (<30 MW) renewable energy generation facilities on the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS). Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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    Abstract

    Western Australia (WA) is truly blessed by abundant and readily available renewable energy resources. Yet most of its energy use still comes from fossil fuel energy. In the case of the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS), which is the largest grid of the state, renewable energy represents only 2.9 percent of the total electricity production in 2009-2010. From these two facts, I look at the possible causes of such a small production of renewable energy and the future development of renewable energy technology for the SWIS in the coming decades. I found that the SWIS and its economic and political structure tend to create barriers to renewable energy through strict market rules and lack of political will. This is particularly true for mid-size renewable energy facilities of less than 30MW, which cannot compete with traditional electricity production and are faced with technical issues to be integrated in the energy mix. In addition, strong lobby groups, encouraged by abundant fossil fuel reserves in WA, deepen the obstacles preventing fast development of renewable energy for the SWIS. In my research, I found many opinions and studies of various experts and industrials that claim that the full production of electricity from renewable energy is technically and practically possible by 2050 in some parts of the world. This is also valid for the SWIS, as some scenarios developed by private organizations have shown possibilities of 80 to 100% of the electricity of the SWIS produced through a diverse renewable energy mix. However, with the current barriers and policies in place, it is very unlikely that the SWIS would achieve such scenarios. In my analysis of the cases of two other countries, I found that policy planning and liberal market seem to be driving factors in the renewable energy sector and its outcome for a country. Both the USA and China are leading the renewable energy industries in two distinct ways. While China has become the world’s renewable energy manufacturer through strong policies, the USA is one of the leaders in renewable energy technology innovation through a more or less free market. I finally look at the possibilities for the SWIS to develop its renewable energy production through an active participation of the government in the energy market.

    Publication Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Energy
    Supervisor: Urmee, Tania
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/11023
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