21 June 2012 – The University of NSW will contribute to a project to be led by the University of Melbourne to develop an open-source software tool for modelling a future low-carbon Australian national electricity market.

The project will be funded by a $900,000 commitment form the federal government’s Emerging Renewables Program.

The project is to “assess the potential technical performance, economics and emissions reductions available from future Australian NEM scenarios that integrate significant levels of different renewable energy technologies.”

The University of NSW participation follows its recent study authored by PhD student Ben Elliston and associate professors Iain MacGill and Mark Diesendorf, that showed it “would have been technically feasible to meet NEM electricity demand for the year 2010 with similar reliability to the current industry standard, using a 100 per cent renewable energy mix.”

A paper on the study was published in the June 2012 edition of the journal Energy Policy.

UNSW said its team will “further develop its tool’s modelling of different renewable energy technologies to gauge their performance under typical Australian weather patterns, their transmission network requirements, their implications for current NEM market arrangements and the economics of different technology mixes.

Professor MacGill, joint director of the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets at UNSW said: “This project represents a real opportunity for two of the leading energy modelling universities in Australia to start pushing the envelope in exploring low-carbon and renewable-based electricity industry futures.”

“The remarkable progress with renewables including wind and photo voltaics over the last decade means that it is now time to start engaging very seriously about what higher renewable penetrations will mean for the NEM, and what our options are to best facilitate such a transition.

“We’re now exploring scenarios of very significant emissions reductions, which require a huge deployment of zero-and low-carbon technologies.

“This means understanding how different technologies in different parts of the country are performing, at different times of the day, and how well they combine to meet time varying demand over the year.”

Mark Diesendorf, associate professor with the Institute of Environmental Studies at UNSW said: “A key part of the project is that the models and software tools developed by the University of Melbourne and UNSW will be made publicly available at the conclusion of the work.

“Planning Australia’s energy future needs to be a shared endeavour with the public being able to access credible, transparent and detailed models that can help explore what the options are.”