Energy sector leaders say coal is still needed as a backup. 

CEOs have voiced concerns over the current pace of renewable energy projects, highlighting the need for a coal safety net to ensure supplies, even as the country transitions away from fossil fuel generation. 

Jeff Dimery, CEO of Alinta Energy, says the rate of clean energy project development has fallen short of the required trajectory to achieve the transition goals, which aim for 82 per cent renewable energy across the National Electricity Market by 2030 and 95 per cent in Victoria by 2035. 

“In almost every aspect – whether social licence, the rising cost of capital and the need to attract skilled people to deliver the build-out – the situation had gone backwards in the last 18 months,” Dimery says

Similarly, Mark Collette from EnergyAustralia has advocated for a coal power generation reserve scheme to ensure energy reliability and affordability during low wind and solar output periods.

The issue of transmission remains a significant bottleneck in the renewable energy buildout.

Despite setting ambitious 2030 targets, including a 43 per cent emissions reduction from 2005 levels, the lack of adequate transmission infrastructure poses a major hurdle to connecting renewable sources to the grid. 

Australia faces a critical period as it works to replace coal power with renewable energy to meet its 2030 goals. 

The Australian Energy Council and University of New South Wales have highlighted the shortfall in renewable deployment, with approximately 16 terawatt hours of renewable generation needed within the next decade to achieve the NEM's 82 per cent renewables target. 

The forward prices for power, particularly in Victoria, have raised questions about the commercial viability of investing in renewable projects under the current scheme. 

With the grid still reliant on coal for 60 per cent of its generation, the transition to a sustainable energy future requires more concerted efforts from the government, industry, and communities to overcome the obstacles hindering progress.