A report forecasting electricity shortfalls in South Australia, Victoria and NSW after the retirement of coal-fired power plants was “a forecast of the future if nothing changes,” says the Clean Energy Council.

A report last week from the Australian Energy Market Operator which modelled the impact of withdrawing 1,360MW of coal-fired capacity suggested potential reliability breaches in South Australia from 2019-20, and NSW and Victoria from 2025 onwards.

“These breaches would most likely occur when demand is high (usually between 3-8pm), coinciding with low wind and rooftop photovoltaic (PV) generation, and low levels of electricity supply imported from neighbouring regions,” the report said.

CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said the report highlighted the importance of testing solutions such as the need for more interconnectors in the national electricity market and the use of storage.

“AEMO’s Electricity Statement of Opportunities typically predicts a shortfall in the supply of power generation at some point if the market remain essentially the same,” Thornton said.

“Fortunately there are a whole range of new investments and solutions under development, including battery storage – which is rapidly coming down in cost – stronger interconnection between the different regions of the National Electricity Market and a range of reforms that are now a priority in order to better integrate renewable energy into the energy system.

“Australia’s electricity system has changed more in the last 10 years than it did in the century before that. It is obvious that much more change is coming in the years ahead, particularly given the majority of our existing coal-fired generation is older than its planned operating life. Modernisation of our energy system is inevitable,” he said.