Uma Patel, Sabra Lane and Tom Joyner, ABC.net.au, 16 February, 2017
The nation’s electricity grid is heading “towards a third-world power system”, according to a respected expert in energy economics who helped design Australia’s national energy market rules.
Danny Price, the managing director of Frontier Economics, has published an analysis suggesting the “patchwork” of different renewable energy targets from the states and territories will “create widespread power system security problems”.
The report said the Federal Government was standing on the shoulders of the states to meet its 2030 carbon emissions target and urged the Coalition to reconsider adopting an emissions intensity scheme, to reduce emissions from the electricity sector.
The Federal Government is using its Direct Action policy, the Emissions Reduction Fund, its Safeguard Mechanism and the Renewable Energy Target to reduce emissions to 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.
But Mr Price said the states and territories were doing the heavy lifting.
“If nothing changes in terms of current policy settings, that is that those state targets go ahead, we actually achieve the 28 per cent reduction with no national policy and I figure that the national Government must know this,” Mr Price told ABC’s AM.
Mr Price said Australia’s electricity grid was fit for a first-world country — but not for long.
Mr Price is currently advising the South Australian State Government.
He has assisted the development of the Australian electricity market rules and in 2009 helped create an emissions trading scheme policy for then Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull and independent senator Nick Xenophon.
|Renewable Energy Target
|33,000 GWh in 2020 (roughly 23.5%)
|50% by 2025
|Australian Capital Territory
|100% by 2020
|50% by 2030
|25% by 2020 and 40% by 2025
|Election commitment to adopt a 50% by 2030 target
|Tasmania, Western Australia
‘It takes a lot of bad decisions to get to this point’
The Government has stepped up its attack on the states’ renewable energy target after the most recent blackout in South Australia.
The Prime Minister accused Labor of putting households, families and business at risk “by their left ideology on energy”.
He has argued the uptake in renewable energy has made the electricity grid less stable.
However, Mr Price’s report stresses South Australia’s reliance on renewable energy is a result of the national target, not the state’s.
“All but one wind farm that’s gone into South Australia has gone in because of the Commonwealth Government scheme, not because of the state Government,” the report said.”
“The Prime Minister’s particularly critical of the South Australian Government for what he describes as the South Australian Government’s scheme, its not the South Australian Government’s scheme, it’s Mr Turnbull’s scheme,” Mr Price said.
He does not believe it is too late to fix the system.
“It takes a lot of very bad decisions to get us to this point and it takes some good decisions to get out of it, but given the way politics are panning out right now in Parliament, [it] doesn’t look as if we’ve got any movement towards an improvement,” he said.