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Australian’s necessary energy policy

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Paul Raftery's picture
Executive Director, Projects RH

Paul worked for Shell Group in Australia (Assistant Treasurer) and with Shell Coal and Power International (Group Treasurer). He was the team member on the financing of Callide C (840 MW) an...

  • Member since 2021
  • 9 items added with 3,045 views
  • Apr 23, 2021

Successive governments have now frittered away the opportunity to develop a sensible national energy policy. Whilst in the eastern part of Australia we have long wanted to have a multistate solution which covers more than 90% of the population of the country, this opportunity has been lost. We now need to deal with reality. 

Australia has an active and commercially aggressive renewable energy industry which is focused on assets which basically produce when there is wind and/or sun. We have not embraced a storage technology which is energy-efficient itself. The Snowy Mountains scheme, even with 2.0, is hardly a national battery. 

We need affordable, stable electricity as part of the international economy we need to reduce our emissions. 

As Australia moves towards 50% of power being generated by renewables we must accept that we need to have battery backup being gas-fired peaking and backup. 

Australia must now prepare a strategy for the retirement of the brown coal-fired power stations in Victoria and some of the Hunter Valley units. We also need to look at our energy strategy 10, 15 and 20 years out.

I think it’s time for government to govern. They are not commentators they need to be doers. 

Am I wrong and we should leave this to the market?

Paul Raftery


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 23, 2021

I think it’s time for government to govern. They are not commentators they need to be doers. 

The question, though, is do they have the right expertise (or experts on staff) to do so prudently and thoughtfully? 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 23, 2021

"...we must accept that we need to have battery backup being gas-fired peaking and backup."

Paul, I think you will find little to no emissions reductions by replacing coal plants with  "gas-fired peaking and backup". Battery backup significantly increases emissions:

"We find that net system CO2 emissions resulting from storage operation are nontrivial when compared to the emissions from electricity generation, ranging from 104 to 407 kg/MWh of delivered energy depending on location, storage operation mode, and assumptions regarding carbon intensity."

CO2 emissions from gas-fired peaker plants running in spinning reserve, together with fugitive methane emissions, are likely worse for climate than coal.

"As Australia moves towards 50% of power being generated by renewables..."

If Australia's goal is 50% renewable power, it's unacceptable. IPCC, and many private analysts, insist we must end consumption of fossil fuels by 2100. And because both solar and wind are entirely reliant on backup with methane-fired power plants, every country that has reached 50% renewable electricity with solar and/or wind has encountered a brick wall blocking future progress.

The first half is the easy part.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Apr 27, 2021

Instead of hysterically kowtowing to the IPCC and green energy religion, concentrate on reasonably affordable and reasonably clean energy. That means a mix of energy resources driven primarily by economics. Such a policy yields reasonable impacts on the environment while recognizing that there is no rational reason to panic over long range “guesses” about the distant climate.

Paul Raftery's picture
Thank Paul for the Post!
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