SON 2017: Australia facing energy trilemma

If we don’t get energy policy right in this country we will be hurting our international competitiveness and we will be hurting our households even more, Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg has told a CEDA audience in Canberra at State of the Nation 2017.

Speaking on Australia’s energy mix Mr Frydenberg said “In 2004, excluding Northern Territory and Western Australia, 75 per cent of Australia got its power from coal while…it is around 60 percent.

“In 2002, we got about eight per cent of our power from renewables. Overwhelmingly of course, hydro. Today it is around 17 per cent and will grow to hit 23.5 per cent in 2020.

“It is fair to say I don’t think we’ve been equipped. There have been many policy failures for more than a decade.

“The energy space is a very very difficult one. The Federal Government doesn’t have the silver bullet because there are lots of reasons we are in the situation we are in.”

Mr Frydenberg discussed the energy trilemma Australia is facing: securing the system, decreasing energy prices and a lower emissions future.

“How do we stabilise a system when we’ve got – and we’re welcoming it – a greater penetration of intermittent sources of power? How do we encourage the battery storage, the take up of other forms like what we have seen with the Snowy Hydro,” he said.

“Pumped hydro is used for more than 99 per cent of energy storage across the world, but we have only three facilities.”

Mr Frydenberg said that along with Snowy Hydro expansion, other sites were being explored for storage including in Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia, with the purpose of stabilising the system.

Other options to stabilise the system included the demand response management.

“Consumers, big and small, can be paid to reduce their energy take in times of high demand, and in doing so, reduce the pressure on the grid,” he said.

“(Another) issue we face is the moratoriums and bans on conventional and unconventional gas extraction in a number of states.

“Victoria has this mindless onshore moratorium on conventional gas extraction. That’s not even fracking.

“Geosciences Australia said they’re locking up 40 years’ worth of resources in Victoria.

“That’s the manufacturing state of our country, with the highest proportion of people using gas at home and its locking it all up as the Gippsland Basin declines as a resource.

“I can’t for the life of me understand why they have those restrictions in place without understanding the impact on jobs or investment.

“Northern Territory has 180 years’ worth of unconventional gas.

“New South Wales has reduced the land available for gas extraction from 60 per cent to now around eight per cent.

“The only bright light in Queensland. It is now supplying the rest of the country and the export market.

“We as Federal Government have introduced – and it wasn’t an easy decision – export controls on the export of gas from the East Coast because we need to make it more available, because we have tens of thousands of jobs that are on the line as a result of the current high gas and electricity prices.”


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