Victorian clean energy policy should be anchored by gas

June 9th, 2016

It was supposed to be the week that the Victorian Government handed down the long awaited announcement about whether the illogical ban on development of onshore unconventional gas and hydraulic fracturing would be lifted or extended.

Instead, new Resources Minister Wade Noonan has deferred that decision until August, prompting APPEA to call for an end to the uncertainty:

“With output from existing gas fields expected to decline from 2017, time is running out to bring new supply into the market. This should not be a difficult decision to make.  A long list of independent scientific inquiries have confirmed that onshore gas production is safe when properly regulated.”

Instead of unlocking the gate to gas development, the Victorian Government instead announced a  plan to increase renewable energy, and to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The Andrews Government should look west to their South Australian neighbours to see the problems that have arisen through a headlong rush into renewable energy saturation. (Our views on that issue are here).

And just this week, AGL confirmed that they are keeping open a gas-fired power station previously slated for closure in what the Australian Financial Review described as:

“a bid to maintain reliable power and stable prices in South Australia’s heavily wind and solar-driven electricity market.”

The role of gas-fired generation in stabilising intermittency in renewables is well known – and the other major benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions also can’t be overlooked.

The US Energy Information Administration published new data in May that showed carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in 2015 were lowest since 1993.

As the team at Energy in Depth pointed out at the time, it is thanks to a boom in domestic production, and the fracking that made it possible, that so much natural gas is available at a reasonable price for this electricity generation.

Hopefully the Victorian Government take careful note of facts in arriving at the final decision about onshore gas, and doesn’t respond only to the shrill claims of activist groups.

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