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Today’s Energy Meeting is Critical

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Today the COAG Energy Council has the opportunity to chart a way ahead for an Australian energy plan. It won’t be able to spell out the detail of the plan but it should be able to establish the parameters.

If nothing is achieved the states have threatened to go it alone and we’ll end up with conflicting policies.

On 5 July the Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPIA) held a panel discussion to consider the Finkel Review.

The group represented all sectors of the energy industry and the discussion was moderated by Jenni Hewitt of ‘The Australian Financial Review’.

EPIA had already called for the recommendations of the Finkel Review to be implemented immediately but it had some reservations about the modelling that had been applied to the Clean Energy Target (CET).

Some participants in the panel discussion endorsed these reservations but there was universal agreement that the absence of a clear climate change policy was hampering energy investment.

There was therefore unanimous support for the implementation of a clean energy target in some form to bring certainty to the market.

That being said, it was the view of the panel that the CET was a second best solution, the objective of which is to meet the Paris commitments rather than effect a comprehensive climate policy.

This would be better done by adopting an economy wide solution rather than simply applying measures to generators.

The panel did not accept the demise of coal fired power generation although it did acknowledge that financing new coal fired power plants was problematic at the present time.

However it was revealed that there was interest in the construction of two new coal fired power generators in NSW.

From this perspective there was criticism of the Finkel Review for being so dismissive of coal fired power generation.

The general view of the panel was that gas supply needed to be increased in order for gas prices to come down.

This will have to be generated by new gas developments rather than gas reservation.

The panel would obviously endorse the need to end the moratoriums on gas exploration in Victoria and the Northern Territory.

Finally the panel was critical of the scant regard the Finkel Review paid to nuclear power.

In EPIA’s view the legislative prohibitions against nuclear power should now be lifted and the prospects for it as clean energy source explored.

These days nuclear generators are smaller, cheaper and can be constructed on a modular basis in a very short space of time.

A number of the EPIA panel members believe that nuclear power is the inevitable solution to Australia’s energy problems.

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