I’m fed-up with the often extremely partisan debate over energy. Now after more than a decade of endless wrangling, the end could be in sight.
This past week the even-tempered and moderate Minister for Energy Josh Frydenberg met with his State counterparts to consider how to implement the Coalition’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) plan, taking into account the differences between the States of existing energy infrastructure, and their philosophical commitment to emissions reduction.
It is a plan that follows on from the independent 2017 National Electricity Market Review requested by the COAG Energy Ministers in October 2016, and conducted by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel.
In essence it suggests guidelines for retailers to chose a rational mix of energy generation sources that would both enable Australia to meet its Paris agreement emissions reduction target whilst also ensuring a reliable and secure supply of both dispatchable and renewable energy, as cheaply as possible for both consumer and taxpayer.
Whilst agreement was not reached at this latest meeting of Energy Ministers, there was consensus on the need to continue discussions, and a further meeting has been set for August.
A quick resolution of differences is not likely with a federal election looming in the next year that could see Labor win office, and pushing for a more ambitious emission reduction target.
Even then it could take a couple of years to implement. In that time further developments, particularly in battery technology, could lead to more changes in the requirements for electricity generation and storage.
Our politicians, charged with the responsibility of ongoing market planning, must avoid doctrinaire positions, embrace the changing science, and create flexible solutions for all-Australians.
Cross-party and cross-factional agreement is essential before private enterprise will risk raising the capital needed to construct appropriate facilities.