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Fast track to renewables: Low emission electricity for south west Australia by 2030

Laslett, D. (2017) Fast track to renewables: Low emission electricity for south west Australia by 2030. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Could renewable energy be implemented rapidly and on a large scale to supply the demand of stationary electrical grid systems?

This thesis takes a step towards answering this question by simulating 100% renewable energy scenarios for the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS), which supplies electricity to most of the population and industry in the southwest of Western Australia (SWWA). The SWIS is remarkable in that it is both isolated from other grids and currently has little available hydro-power.

Solar and wind energy were chosen as the energy sources to be simulated because they are commercially mature technologies, already have a presence in the SWIS, are widely available in many other parts of the world, yet they are geographically and temporally variable. To simulate the operation of rooftop solar PV and large scale solar and wind power plants, heuristic models were built to generate synthetic hourly values of solar and wind energy resources anywhere within the SWWA. An integrated simulation of the SWIS grid was built using simple models of population increase, energy efficiency, distributed battery storage and seasonal power to gas storage.

The construction schedules required to build a 100% renewable system for the SWIS by the year 2030 were found to be achievable for scenarios with a mix of solar PV, solar thermal and wind. If solar PV, wind and battery storage capacity could maintain exponential growth, then the required growth rates are less than current global growth rates. Energy efficiency would need to improve at a greater rate, though still moderate, than the current global improvement rate. However, the more that energy efficiency is improved, the lower the total demand, and the easier the task becomes for the other technologies.

The findings of this thesis have positive implications for world-wide rapid transformation to low emission electricity generation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
United Nations SDGs: Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Supervisor(s): Jennings, Philip and Creagh, Chris
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