Australia releases terms of reference for new energy white paper | RenewEconomy

Australia releases terms of reference for new energy white paper

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Abbott government flags new energy white paper. Hopefully, it will look beyond the three technologies that dominated the last 50 years: coal, gas and hydro.

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(Editor’s note: This story is update to include members of advisory panel).

The new Abbott conservative government has announced terms of reference for a new energy white paper, that it says will deliver a “framework for national energy and resources policy that is clear, consistent and stable.” Let’s hope it is also flexible.

Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane, whose portfolio includes energy, says the new EWP is critical to secure domestic energy needs and grow Australia’s export base. Indeed, the only technology that is mentioned in the release, and the terms of reference, is Liquified Natural Gas. Macfarlane was quoted last month as saying Australia should be seeking to extract every last molecule of gas that it could. (See carbon budget).

“Stable energy policy is essential given its close connection to issues that affect every home and business, including electricity prices,” Macfarlane is quoted as saying in a press release.

“It’s also important that international investors can have faith that Government policy will be clear and consistent without any nasty surprises.

“The Government also understands the need to create the right environment to attract investment.”

Does it? Investment in domestic energy has come to a grinding halt (with the exception of household solar) after the new government flagged its intention to repeal the carbon price, and to review the renewable energy target. Just how the government proposes to reduce emissions over the long term, and to provide the right incentive for future investment, is yet to be seen.

The press release state that the Department of Industry will consult key stakeholders and invite public submissions and will ensure policy is “robust, well-informed, and relevant to energy consumers.”

It will appoint an “expert reference panel” to advise the industry. The good news is that it is not led by a climate skeptic, as the government’s new business advisory and financial review panels are.  The members include:

  • (Chair) Mr John Ryan, Department of Industry
  • Mr Andrew Hipperson,  Goodman Fielder Australia
  • David Moult, Centennial Coal & NSW Minerals Council
  • Dr Gillian Owen,  AER – Consumer Challenge Panel & Monash University
  • Professor Paul Simshauser,  AGL Energy Limited
  • Ms Anna Skarbek, ClimateWorks Australia
  • Dr Brian Spalding,  AEMC & ARENA
  • Ms Jennifer Westacott,  BCA – Energy Working Group
  • Dr Alex Wonhas, CSIRO

Given that many of these have worked on the CSIRO’s Future Grid scenarios, this is a promising development.

The terms of reference, which can be found here, says the EWP will consider:

▪                policy and regulatory reform to secure reliable, competitively and transparently priced energy for a growing population and productive economy, including the efficiency and effectiveness of regulatory bodies;

▪                the appropriate role for government in the energy sector;

▪                opportunities to drive the more productive and efficient use of energy;

▪                energy related distribution infrastructure to deliver efficient national markets;

▪                alternative transport fuel sources;

▪                workforce issues, including national skills development needs; emerging energy technologies and new energy sources; and future growth in exports of energy products, including our world leading services industries.

It says an issues paper will be released by mid December to initiate consultation.  A Green Paper will be released for consultation in May 2014, while the full Energy White Paper will be completed in September, 2014.

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  1. adam 7 years ago

    hmm… whats John Ryan like?

    Timing could be better (i.e., shorter). It’s a long time to wait for new RET legislation.

    You seem cautiously optimistic Giles. Let’s see this issues paper I guess.

  2. Petra Liverani 7 years ago

    Who knows who a climate skeptic is these days? People pay lip service but what they say otherwise indicates they’re not. Looks like a very uninspiring panel to me.

    In his article in The Conversation on what Australia’s energy will look like, Alex Wonhas expresses faith in the unprovable so-called technology, carbon capture and storage (CCS). As has been pointed out, CCS is not a technology, it’s a marketing term.
    “Fossil fuels and low emissions are not as incompatible as one might think. For instance, carbon capture and storage technologies could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by removing carbon dioxide that would normally be released into the atmosphere during the burning of coal and gas, and storing it underground.”

    What will it take to get the simple fact that we need to get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible and onto our massive solar and wind resources begging to be harnessed? We can also exploit these energy-producers for export.

    • RobS 7 years ago

      The election of a government without clear anti-green pro fossil fuel, climate change program cancelling policies? We elected a government who campaigned on clear, openly stated policies to wind back renewable support, cancel most if not all climate change programs and support the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, the only confusing thing is why people keep acting surprised when they keep their promises.

  3. nicephotog 7 years ago

    Looking beyond it, as always the “scenario” is how to make a profit and hold onto or lock in customers with a system. This article:
    about refusing or penalising people whom have off grid equipment who want grid electricity also is no different in tactic at causing trouble to consumers by interrogating and invading consumer privacy with a potential restriction. Its only reasonable chance and only allowance is what makes business viable and profitable and excused, “user pay”. So connection costs should be charged to the consumer to have the grid whether they have off grid or not. One important feature of off grid however, is that small off grid systems up to 3Kw hybrid can be used for running a fridge and freezer to prevent loss of food stuffs whether domestic or kept in a domestic area(home) as much for blackout. If any penalty were against a consumer to have the grid connected it best have a ceiling placed on it of 3kw so hundreds of dollars of food can be kept safe and not lost to blackout or line work when away for a week or two. A small 600w max. wind turbine and 150w solar and a 2500w inverter can run two standard upright white goods i.e. a freezer and a fridge.
    Also, for around $8000 AUD(e.g. 80 x 80ah 12v deep cycle 30 celsius long life) to Sydney port BATTERIES(ACCUMULATORS) CAN BE OBTAINED for a satisfactory off grid system size such as a 10Kw power system with 5Kw wind and 5Kw solar PV . The ability is there to have twice the power consumption in 10 years and if the rig lasts 14 years , at present cost on grid whether the cost lowers a little it will have been cheaper after 14 years(around end of off grid system life).

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