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ACT gas to electricity transition to challenge Canberrans, ARENA says

The ACT will become the first jurisdiction to face significant challenges in transitioning away from gas to electricity due to its colder climate, the federal government’s renewable energy agency has said.

Speaking before an ACT government inquiry into renewable energy innovation, ARENA principal policy advisor Jon Sibley said the growing electrification of Canberra would create many obstacles for residents reliant on gas heating in coming years.

“Electrification does create challenges and the ACT will be some of the first to experience those challenges, especially when it comes to energy,” Mr Sibley told the inquiry.

“Most of the energy that goes into heating is supplied by gas, and we would need large amounts of electricity for the grid to make up the difference.

“Whether there’s a need to upgrade substations in that transition, those [industry] smarts will come into play.”

The ACT government is looking to phase out gas power as part of its push to reach net-zero emissions by 2045.

New suburbs in Canberra won’t be connected to the city’s gas network as part of those plans.

Mr Sibley said while solar and battery energy could be drawn on to lessen demand on the electricity grid, there would still be challenges involved as part of the transition.

“Battery energy is one way of doing it, but it is an expensive way of doing it, especially when a battery as a 10kWh capacity but you need three times that amount to keep a house warm in the evening,” he said.

“This is just one example of the types of challenges that need to be addressed, especially in a colder climate during an electrification process.”

It comes after the renewable energy inquiry was told in June that the transition from gas to electricity could lead to some households not able to afford to transition being hit with higher power bills.

The territory government has offered financial incentives for Canberrans to switch to electric appliances and hot water systems as part of its sustainable housing scheme.

The scheme will be rolled out in full later this year.

A recent report from the Australian Energy Regulator found gas prices in the ACT were among some of the highest in the country, as a percentage of disposable household income.

Source: The Canberra Times