The Government recognises the role energy, including renewable energy, plays as a driver of economic development. The Northern Territory Government has a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 for electricity consumption, while maintaining secure, reliable and least-cost electricity for consumers and taxpayers.
To help the Government determine how best to achieve the target, advice was sought from an independent panel of experts. The Renewable Energy Expert Panel formally delivered its report ‘Northern Territory Roadmap to Renewables, 50% by 2030’, which was publicly released on 27 November 2017, together with Government’s response. The report includes 11 high level recommendations which the Government has supported or supported in principle, noting that further analysis is required to assess the feasibility of suggested actions.
A key challenge for Government is to design policies that enable new renewable energy investment that delivers lower electricity supply costs while minimising the cost to taxpayers associated with lower utilisation of existing publicly-owned generator assets. In addition, renewable technologies have different technical characteristics to thermal generation which can present risks, if not managed, to the security of operation of power systems that have been designed, built and operated on legacy technologies.
The technology exists to integrate large amounts of renewable energy into existing electricity networks, however the government is taking a carefully considered approach to implementation planning, to ensure the policies it implements are appropriate for the Territory and uphold the principles of reliability, security and least cost.
In order to reduce electricity costs for taxpayers and consumers, greater competition and new technologies are needed. The Territory needs more diversity of supply and private sector
investment so that new, lower-cost generation can enter the market.
The Government has decided to move as planned to implement the Northern Territory Electricity Market (NTEM), progressing from interim market arrangements. The move to NTEM will be a managed transition and will deliver competition in both generation and retail, enabling reduction in wholesale costs of electricity and reduced subsidies, which are met by all taxpayers.
Given the correlation and interdependence of the renewable energy policy with the electricity market reform program, a combined implementation plan representing the first stage of implementation and taking into consideration the suggested actions in the expert panel’s report has been developed.
The plan sets out a series of actions, many already in progress, that will help to ensure the Northern Territory’s electricity systems continue to provide reliable and secure power at least cost as the proportion of renewable energy generation increases to meet the RE Target and establish the authorising and operating policy and procedures required to facilitate increased renewable energy generation into the system.
The plan identifies nine initiatives under four overarching work streams: System Design, Market and Governance Framework, Industry and Community Participation, and Demand and Consumption.
The System Design work stream will help to ensure the Northern Territory’s electricity systems continue to provide reliable and secure power at least cost, as the proportion of renewable energy generation increases to meet the renewable energy target. The main tasks include development of validated dynamic network models, market and financial modelling and analysis to inform policy design decisions, and support for research and development.
The Market and Governance Framework work stream will establish the authorising and operating policy and procedures required to facilitate increased renewable energy generation into the system. The main tasks include establishing the required regulatory framework and review of electricity pricing structures.
The Industry and Community Participation work stream will identify appropriate mechanisms to achieve optimal installations of renewable energy by the community and industry, and support opportunities for renewable energy related industry to grow in the Northern Territory. The main tasks include development of a Community Renewable Energy Participation Program and an Industry Development Strategy.
The Demand and Consumption work stream will assist to reduce the level of investment required to support increased levels of renewable energy and help reduce energy costs for households and small business. The main tasks include facilitating the use of demand-side management and development of an energy efficiency strategy.