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By Kate Cranney 21 October 2020 3 min read

Sun-tracking mirrors, called heliostats, concentrate sunlight and are one form of renewable energy. (Image: CSIRO)

Around the world, countries are transitioning to low emissions energy futures.

How do we accelerate this transition to a power system that is low emission, low cost, secure and reliable? How do we overcome technical barriers in order to enable the efficient integration of clean energy into power systems?

This is the focus of a newly announced global body—the Global Power System Transformation (G-PST) consortium[Link will open in a new window].

The consortium was launched yesterday[Link will open in a new window] by Audrey Zibelman, CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), one of the founding members. CSIRO leads the Australian contribution to the research program.

We spoke to CSIRO's Dr John Ward[Link will open in a new window], about what  the consortium means for Australia and the global transition to clean energy.

What is the G-PST consortium?

"The consortium is an international collaboration. It's led by CEOs of six of the world's leading system operators, from areas with very high renewable energy systems:

  • Australian Energy Market Operator
  • National Grid Electricity System Operator UK
  • California Independent System Operator
  • Electric Reliability Council of Texas
  • Ireland’s System Operator (EirGrid)
  • Denmark’s System Operator (Energinet)

This group of six will partner with more than 25 prominent system operators from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and other regions."

Why do we need a global consortium of energy operators?

"Globally, there are constraints on the uptake of low emissions renewable energy systems. We're learning how to integrate inverter based low inertia renewables into systems that were designed based on a very different technologies.

The cost of renewable energy is no longer our major challenge — instead, integrating this energy into our electricity systems is what we need to solve.

We can massively accelerate the transition to a low emissions electricity sector by tackling these challenges — from solving technical issues, through to workforce training and developing new real-time operational tools — in a collaborative way and sharing those outcomes."

What is CSIRO’s role?

"Science is key to the consortium's work. The electricity system operators will work with leading international researchers—including CSIRO—to accelerate the transition to low emissions, low cost, secure and reliable power systems.

A core part of the G-PST initiative is to bring together and focus the work of leading international researchers, researchers who are working on how to accelerate the decarbonisation of our electricity system.

CSIRO will conduct this research. We will also coordinate with other Australian researchers, across universities and industry. This means that Australian research is directly addressing the energy challenges most relevant to Australia, while benefiting from international research and experiences through the G-PST, and sharing our work internationally.

CSIRO is a core member of the G-PST research agenda group, setting the research direction and priorities."

The California Independent System Operator is part of the consortium. (Image: San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, Near Palm Springs, by Ken Lund) ©  © Raine Villa

What does Australia bring to the global table?

"Australia is one of the countries with the highest levels of renewable energy in our electricity system.

That means we're perfectly placed to both lead the initiative and demonstrate performance while solving pressing issues for Australia.

Australia has a very strong presence on the G-PST: AEMO is a founding system operator, directly supported by their CEO, and CSIRO leads the Australian contribution to the research program."

What do you hope the G-PST will achieve?

"I’m really enthusiastic about the consortium. By working closely with system operators and leading researchers internationally, and focusing on the key challenges of decarbonising our electricity sector, we can massively accelerate this clean energy transition.

In 2017, CSIRO and Energy Networks Australia released the ‘Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap[Link will open in a new window]’. The roadmaps set out a pathway to a 100% renewables based electricity sector by 2050.

The G-PST is accelerating this roadmap, aiming for 50% emissions reductions by 2030. And, through strong international collaboration, the group is working to make this achievable at a global scale."

You can read more about the G-PST consortium here[Link will open in a new window].

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