Essay by Eric Worrall
The Aussie climate change clown show continues, with state and federal politicians arguing about whether to allow some gas projects until the battery backup is ready.
Blackout warnings lifted for weekend as national cabinet weighs up energy solutions
By David Crowe and Mike Foley
June 17, 2022 — 7.30pm
Soaring coal prices and multiple plant failures meant 25 per cent of coal-fired power capacity was offline, forcing the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to take the unprecedented step of suspending the National Electricity Market on Wednesday so it could command when and where electricity supply should be directed.
But AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman said on Friday “the outlook from today is much more healthy than it was a couple of days ago”.
Westerman said the chaotic week demonstrated the need for investment to bring on and back up more renewable energy. The operator’s renewables road map was still “absolutely the right pathway for Australians to have access to the lowest cost, most reliable energy”.
“These last couple of days are a reminder that the pace of change is high and that we actually need to make sure we’re investing in renewables, in firming, in transmission and then take those longer-term actions,” he said in an interview.
Albanese told a climate summit on Friday night that high prices for gas and coal made the shift to renewable energy even more urgent.
“Australia recognises that climate change is not only a problem to be solved but an opportunity to be embraced,” he said in an online address to the Major Economies Forum hosted by United States President Joe Biden.
“With gas and oil prices soaring, the case for transitioning to secure, reliable and affordable clean energy has never been stronger.
“Our policies mean renewables will contribute 82 per cent of our National Energy Market by 2030.
“My ambition is for Australia to be a clean energy superpower.”
With the energy regulator forecasting peak winter demand for gas may exceed supply in the long-term, federal and state political leaders have been unable to reach a consensus on whether Australia should develop Narrabri or other gas fields.
Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King backed the Narrabri project this week but was criticised for doing so by the Labor Environment Action Network, Greens leader Adam Bandt, Greenpeace and others. King also said the Victorian restrictions on gas were a barrier to future supply.
Read more: https://theage.com.au/politics/federal/blackout-warnings-lifted-for-weekend-as-national-cabinet-weighs-up-energy-solutions-20220617-p5aum7.html
The Narrabri gas project is not due to come online until 2026. Renewables are supposed to solve Australia’s problems by 2030. But Australia’s 2022 energy supply is still very much in peril – any further failures, during what is promising to be a very cold winter, will reignite the threat of blackouts.
The previous federal government planned to build a $600 million gas plant, to replace the 1000MW Liddell coal plant, which is scheduled to close in 2023. This wouldn’t have fixed 2022’s problems, but at least it would have been a step in the right direction – providing enough gas could be found to run the plant. I somehow doubt Prime Minister Anthony Albanese intends to upset all his green friends by continuing with this plan.
Private energy companies currently have zero incentive to address these issues. Our new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised to shut down emissions by 2030, which effectively means he intends to shut down fossil fuel power companies. There is no talk of compensation.
The only rational commercial response is to spend the absolute bare minimum on maintenance, invest nothing in new capacity, and extract what remaining profit can be extracted from our crumbling power generators, until the day they finally break down for the last time.
Update (EW): h/t TonyL; The guy at the top with the fiddle is our national Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Note this is a satirical photoshopped image.