Transitioning our current gas customers to renewable electricity for all their energy requirements is another option we can consider to achieve the net zero greenhouse gas emissions target while maintaining use of the gas network. Some considerations of gas network electrification include the:
additional peak demand for energy on the electricity network
investment required to upgrade the electricity network peak capacity
need to upgrade capacity of electricity transmission infrastructure to bring more electricity to the ACT, and
retiring the gas network and upgrading and disposal of existing gas appliances.
The key consideration of network electrification is the additional demand on the electricity network. Around 75 per cent of all Canberra households use gas, and over winter, gas provides 55 to 60 per cent of Canberra’s total energy needs. Residential consumers mainly use their gas for space heating and water heating, which creates defined daily demand peaks on the gas network that are hard to satisfy using the equivalent electricity.
To cope with the addition demand, we would need to install around 3,000 MW of new generation capacity in large-scale and small-scale renewables and batteries, which represents double the current theoretical electrical capacity and triple what is generally achievable. Given the majority of this investment would be passed directly onto customers through network charges, we need to consider the cost impact network electrification would have on Canberrans.