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Angus Taylor’s gas plan is an astoundingly bad idea, on so many levels

Simon Holmes à Court comments in The Guardian (17.9.20) on the federal government’s ‘gas-fired recovery’ plan to underpin the economic pathway out of the pandemic crisis. The author suggests that the Coalition’s ‘increasingly desperate and ideological energy market interventions’ will end up costing us all.

‘On Tuesday evening as I was streaming BP’s annual energy outlook statement – wherein the oil “supermajor” explained that fossil fuels have likely peaked and energy growth from here on in will be renewables, renewables and more renewables – a news notification popped up on my screen: Australian minister for energy and emissions reduction Angus Taylor demands electricity sector builds new 1,000 MW gas fired power station.

‘An astoundingly bad idea, on so many levels. With the closure of the Liddell coal fired power station in the Hunter Valley, the federal government doesn’t want a repeat of Hazelwood.

‘… Since gas, as a fuel, costs around three times as much as the equivalent amount of coal, power from gas costs a lot more than from coal. If a new gas power station were to run around the clock, it might be able to produce electricity for as low as $90 per megawatt hour, almost twice as much as current long term power contracts. A “like for like” gas replacement of Liddell would make a multi-billion dollar loss over its lifetime. Won’t happen.

‘In general, gas power stations are run much more sporadically, only during peak demand events. If the mooted gas power station were to run only as a peaking plant, the cost of energy produced could easily be twice as high again.’

The world is moving away from fossil fuels, while in Australia, it’s all systems go for coal and gas

Bill Hare writes in The Guardian (20.5.21) about the Morrison government’s seeming determination to consign Australia to being an international pariah, bearing the brunt of increasingly damaging climate impacts.

‘The International Energy Agency has produced a groundbreaking report on how the world can meet the Paris agreement’s long-term temperature goal of limiting warming to 1.5C. In particular, it shows, from the IEA perspective, how the energy system can reach net zero by 2050.

‘It has two really important top line messages. First, the path to get to net zero emissions by 2050 and to limit warming to 1.5C remains open, but, as we all know, the window is closing on this open unless action is rapidly ramped up.

‘Second, to get there, all new fossil fuel investments and infrastructure – oil, coal and gas – need to stop. Not next year, not in 2030, but today: 2021. And what is key here is that this statement doesn’t come from some activist organisation, but from the world’s leading – and very conservative – energy advisor.

‘To those of us in the scientific and energy policy community working on these issues – and indeed to others paying attention – none of these conclusions should be surprising, or shocking.

‘What is really shocking is the reaction of the Morrison government, a government that appears to be betting the farm, the economy and Australia’s international standing in a wider sense – betting that the world will just walk away from the Paris agreement and of the increasing global momentum towards limiting emissions to net zero by 2050.’

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