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2017 will be a big year for Australia’s energy system: here’s what to look out for

Alan Pears writes in The Conversation (25.1.17) about the prospects this year of achieving workable government energy policies, suggesting that while the goal of clean, cheap, reliable energy is clear, no-one seems to agree on how we get there.

‘2017 is the year when many long-festering energy policy problems must be addressed. Our outdated energy market model is falling apart. The gas industry is lining its pockets at the expense of Australian industry. Climate policy is urgent, but controversial among key decision-makers. Our fossil fuel exports are under threat from global forces.

‘The objectives are clear: provide reliable, affordable and low-carbon energy services to households and business, and build a sustainable energy export sector.

‘The problem is that there is little agreement on how we interpret and frame these goals, let alone how to achieve them. Some see threat where others see opportunity. Powerful interests are keen to protect their investments. Meanwhile diverse competitors are emerging from many directions and consumers clamour for equity, rights, affordability and choice.

‘These debates are set in a context of Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s review of the sector, a federal review of climate policy, and debate about extending the Renewable Energy Target.

‘Australian business is calling for certainty in energy and climate policy: that’s one thing they can’t be certain they’ll get this year. But there will be some useful groundwork.’

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