Our Analysis of the Grid

Edition 3 – 30/04/2023

Analysing our Energy Options

An energy model of the National Electricity Market (NEM) has been created by Dr Robert Barr of Electric Power Consulting

This model compares the energy outputs of any range of generating devices with the grid demand. The demand takes the actual profile over three years from January 2017 through to January 2020 at half hourly intervals. This typically represents an annual metered system load not including behind the meter roof top solar of about 183 Terrawatt Hours (TWh)

Wind and solar energy outputs and installed capacities over this period were obtained from the Australian Energy Market Operator. This enables a “trace” to be created that can be matched to any desired increase or decrease in wind and solar generating capacity. For example, in the three years in question the NEM had ongoing increases in wind and solar capacity which are matched to actual generation output at that time.

Using the actual renewables output “trace” means the model automatically accounts for seasonal changes in solar output and wind fluctuations over a three year period. It captures for example the June 2017 wind drought. Three years is a significant sampling period however, longer durations will result in greater fluctuations caused by even longer wind droughts, extended El Nino or La Nina events and other drivers of weather patterns.

What we analysed – Nuclear and Renewables

Six Scenarios

SCENARIO 1 – NEM 2022 CURRENT – The first is the existing generation mix which was modeled to ensure the costs used and emissions intensities would be close to the reality of both our wholesale electricity market and the resulting emissions intensity. Cost to low voltage customers is 23 cents/kWh and emissions intensity is 693 gr CO2/kWh. Generation total is 200TWh/yr

SCENARIO 2 – ISP HYDROGEN 2050 – The second scheme is for AEMO’s proposed Hydrogen Superpower which has 100% renewable wind and solar with 770 GWh of energy storage coming from 79GW of storage capacity. AEMO have nominated 1509TWh/yr in this scenario as the demand in 2050. We found it did not meet the energy demand and had to increase the generating capacity to 1,495 GW and storage capacities to 1,669 GWh. It is a very costly concept due to low capacity factors, large amounts of spilled energy and large increases in transmission and distribution. Cost to low voltage customers is 51 cents/kWh and emissions intensity is 51 gr CO2/kWh which comes from huge amounts of embodied emissions.

SCENARIO 3 – ISP STEP CHANGE  2050 Next, we have AEMO’s step Change scenario in 2050. AEMO’s generating and storage capacities had to be increased to provide enough energy to meet demand with Generating capacity of 338 GW and storage of 1,396 GWh. AEMO have nominated 516TWh/r as the demand under this scenario in 2050. It includes 21GW of open cycle gas. Cost to Low voltage customers is 47 cents/kWh and a moderate emissions intensity of 138 gr CO2/kWh.

SCENARIO 4 – ISP PROGRESSIVE CHANGE. The fourth scenario is the less ambitious AEMO Progressive scenario in 2050. Cost to low voltage customers is 37 cents/kWh and emissions intensity of an unacceptably high 236 gr CO2/kWh. AEMO have nominated 538 TWh/r as the demand under this scenario in 2050This scenario still has 30GW of Open Cycle gas to achieve the energy demand. It has 260GW of generating capacity and 789GWh of storage

SCENARIO 5 – NUCLEAR ISP 49% + RE The fifth scenario generates 49% nuclear energy. The costs of operation the nuclear power plants is increased by having to operate with solar energy thereby reducing their capacity factors to 76.5%. This scenario has total generating capacity of 161GW and storage of 510GWh It also includes 11GW of open cycle gas plants Cost to low voltage customers is 29 cents/kWh. We have matched AEMO’s Step change demand of 516TWh/r in this scenario in 2050 The emissions intensity reflects the benefits of nuclear energy with 79 gr CO2/kWh.

SCENARIO 6 – NUCLEAR ISP 70%+RE Finally the best cost and emissions performance comes from the 70% nuclear energy scenario with a cost to low voltage customers of 25 cents/kWh and emissions intensity of 17 gr CO2/kWh. This is a fully decarbonised ultra low emissions scenario. Total generating capacity is 126 GW with 460 GWh of storage. We have matched AEMO’s Step change demand of 516TWh/r in this scenario in 2050

NEM Nuclear and Renewables Scenarios for 2050

Electricity Sector Integrated System Plan Scenarios


The EPC Energy Model takes its genertor inputs from the CSIRO Gen Cost report except for nuclear energy
CSIRO have not provided any costs for large nuclear power plants nor for small light water reactors such as the BWRX 300

We have compiled a hybrid nuclear power plant cost of $7,402/kW which applies to a mix of large and small plants suited to the NEM. This has been derived from a range of sources from South Korea, the USA and Canada
The following image shows the model input form for Scenario 6 –NUCLEAR ISP 70%+RE


The energy model has a very large range of data outputs however the following image shows a summary of the most critical vales. In addition to this print output there is a range of graphical outputs. Examples of these appear on the following pages.