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Energy a “defining debate” of this parliament: Turnbull’s key NPC comments

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Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has laid out his thoughts – and presumably those of his party – on renewable energy, electricity pricing and security, as well as on “clean coal” and gas, describing energy as a “defining debate of this parliament” in his National Press Club address on Wednesday.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a press conference at Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices, in Sydney, Australia, Sunday July 10, 2016. After a tight election result, Mr Turnbull has formally claimed victory after the July 2 federal election.  (AAP Image/Paul Miller) NO ARCHIVING

The following is a selection of energy-related themes and quotes from Turnbull’s hour-long speech.

Energy security

“If you doubt the importance of energy security, take a visit to South Australia. ….But the problem goes beyond South Australia.”

“Families and businesses need reliable power. This mindless rush on renewables is not good enough. Australia should be able to achieve the energy trifecta of energy security,
All governments and industry should work together to achieve those three goals …of secure and affordable power while delivering on our emissions pledge.”

The RET

“The renewable energy target was never intended to be perpetual. It was designed to act as a pull-through of technology, to provide accelerated demand on the assumption that that demand would inspire more investment and development. Now, whether it’s a coincidence or not, the reality is that the levelised cost of renewables has declined.

The opposition’s energy policies

“Bill Shorten’s energy plan… is a sure recipe to deliver much more expensive and much more unreliable power.”

“Labor’s approach is driven largely ideology.”

“This isn’t an abstract issue. Higher electricity prices mean more pressure on household budgets and businesses. That’s why energy will be a defining debate in this Parliament. We’re determined to help families and businesses by making electricity affordable and reliable; Labor’s policies mean higher power prices and energy insecurity,”

The states

“We have an abundance of states setting huge renewable targets far beyond the national RET with no consideration (of the cost).”

“In Victoria, we have the Hazelwood. closure. Yet the Victorian government opposes onshore coal-seam gas mining.”

“State bans (on unconventional gas exploration) will make energy supply more expensive and less reliable. Without gas where will the firming power come from to provide stability for grids?”

(The lack of grid-scale energy storage capacity in Australia is an) “indictment of state governments that have been pushing more and more renewables into the grid … If you are going to have a large percentage of renewable energy in the grid, you’ve got to be able to back that up, with either battery storage or gas-fired power.”

Energy storage

Turnbull said Australia was lagging behind the rest of the world on battery storage, and energy storage technology more broadly. A situation for which he largely blames the states (see above).

“Large-scale energy storage will support variable renewables, and it will enhance grid stability and we’re going to get on with it.”

“Last week, at my request, ARENA and the CEFC agreed to work together on (advancing) battery storage and pumped hydro (research and development in Australia).”

Coal

Turnbull complained that while Australia had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in “clean coal” R&D, it had nothing to show for it, in terms of new, lower emitting coal-fired plants.

“You’d think if anyone had a vested interest in doing smart things with clean coal it would be us wouldn’t it? …We really need to strip the ideology out of the debate.”

“We will need more synchronous baseload power, (which can be supplied by) state of the art clean coal fired technology. The next incarnation of our energy policy should be technology agnostic.”

“There are new coal-fired power plants being all around the world and many of them use that advanced lower emissions technology.”

“Coal will have a roll to play for many decades into the future. At the same time the cost of renewables, solar in particular… and wind, are dropping considerably. But you do have this fundamental problem that the wind doesn’t blow all the time and sun doesn’t shine all the time.

And finally…

“I came into politics at the ripe old age of 50, having spent my whole life run business. My interest is in results. I am not a political hack… The way I look at it, you’ve got to have an all of the above strategy. We want to achieve affordable energy, we want to achieve reliability, and we’ve got to meet our emissions reduction target.”  

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  • Rob G

    The hollow man speaks…. but I hear nothing.

  • Keith

    What a load of rubbish. I presume there was no mention of Queensland?

  • solarguy

    Clearly the man doesn’t want to tell the truth, he eludes to it then he starts with the porky pies on FF generation. The only truth he spoke was of energy storage to make RE work 100%, so why try and fool us with the, we must burn the black shit for decades to come.

    • Chris Fraser

      It’s straight from the establishment energy barons’ buzzword bingo.

  • Chris Fraser

    “We need more synchronous baseload power”. Next idiot comment please …

  • David leitch

    what ever else you think its objectively difficult to see what the vision is or how its to be executed.

  • Rod

    Unfortunately the same idiots who believed Abbot when he said they would be $500 per year better off without the carbon tax will believe this load of crap.
    I get livid every time someone blames RE for the South Australian blackout. Anyone who saw the transmission towers on the deck knows the truth.

  • howardpatr

    After listening to him I don’t expect leadership from Turnbull on Australia’s energy future – despite Turnbull’s utterances the RWRNJs in the LNP control the political agenda so industry will just have to move with the times; respond to decreasing energy generation and storage costs.

    • Andy Saunders

      RWRNJs?

      • Rod

        Had me scratching my head the first time I saw it.

        Right Wing Religious Nut Jobs

  • Jo

    ‘…That’s why energy will be a defining debate in this Parliament….’
    Bring it on!

    Who would have thought just two years ago that ‘clean coal’ and Turnbull could appear in the same paragraph?

  • Ian

    Exactly how is ARENA and the CEFC supposed to do anything when their funding is continuously cut?

  • Ian Mclaughlin

    It is without doubt the COALition is the party driven by ideology as they consistently REFUSE to listen to the experts in ANY field of knowledge. South Australia has a supply problem purely because the completely privatised electricity system has not invested in the future and has closed the last brown coal generator. It was closed because it was no longer viable past 2017 and could not get large industry to enter into supply contracts as they were too expensive (BHP). I have given up on the COALition doing anything positive on ANYTHING they should all be sent back to the 1950’s where they belong. Also when the Liberal (oxymoron) State Government gave E.T.S.A. ( the public owned Electricity system) away the proposed inter-connector to NSW was cancelled so that the new owners had a monopoly. Now the latest group of Liberals say we need more inter-connectors!!

  • Robert Comerford

    I missed question time unfortunately.

    Was there an educated journalist present to take Malfunction to task on his lies.

  • Ken Dyer

    Apparently, Turnbull said this at the Press Club, “… the Government had invested $590 million in clean-coal technology since 2009, despite Australia not having a high-efficiency, low-emission power station.” THEY HAVE NOTHING TO SHOW FOR FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY MILLION WASTED DOLLARS – CLEAN COAL DOES NOT EXIST – IT IS A MYTH. AND TURNBULL HAS JUST PROVED IT. ROFL ROFL ROFL Furthermore, that amount represents solar systems of about 250 megawatts or more that Australia could have built in the meantime, employing hundreds of people. Get real Turnbull!

    • Rod

      Add to that the 1.5 Billion (so far) wasted on indirect action to actually increase emissions. GRRRRR

  • Marc Hudson
    • Rod

      “super-dooper, ultra hypocritical coal power”
      LOL

  • JIm

    The prince has turned into a squirming toad!

  • Farmer Dave

    The real energy security issue for Australia is, of course, liquid fuels – but based on this summary, that was completely ignored.

  • trackdaze

    For those that fear energy security and whos ears are the target for the coalition endlessly prattling on about “energy security”

    Fear not vote lemings solar and storage will free you from network and generator insecurity the coalition has brought about.

  • stalga

    There is 3000MW of excess capacity in the grid. There is no need for “more synchronous baseload”.

    There is a need to further synchronise the grid, more coal won’t solve that.

    He calls the State targets mindless, when these targets are being achieved in a number of countries, without blackouts.

    He seems to be saying, we will use the crappy 14% efficiency improvement from ultra-super-duper coal plants to achieve the Paris agreement, then forget it and the RET ever existed. Just do enough to have a superficially plausible defence seems to be the strategy.

    I’ve dubbed him the fake PM, the fake moderate and the fake statesman.

  • Adam Smith

    Throw all the mud you like but the fact is that the Coalition will be in power until at least the second half of 2019.

    • neroden

      Not if the states decide to take control of their own destinies. This fool of a PM is useless and counterproductive. If he can’t be removed, he must be routed around.

  • Ken Dyer

    According to the University of Melbourne:
    “The construction of new ultra-supercritical coal plants – as advocated by the Australian coal lobby and federal government ministers – would cost twice as much as renewables, according to the University of Melbourne. Federal Minister for Resources Matthew Canavan claimed new coal plants could cut power emissions by 27 per cent compared to current levels. However, Dylan McConnell from the University of Melbourne estimates the new coal plants would cost US$62 billion, while for the same cost solar and wind capacity would cut emissions by 65 per cent.” (Source CoalWire/Guardian)

  • neroden

    What an idiot. Simply not in touch with the real world.