Features, Oil & Gas Leaks

Govt to support two new gas plants

Fossil Fool Bulletin • 7 January 2020

The federal government has kept up its annual tradition of trying to hide its many climate failures by announcing – two days before Christmas and in the middle of a national bushfire emergency – that it will underwrite two new gas-fired power stations.

The Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, has given initial support for a 130-megawatt gas plant in Queensland, and a 220-MW project in Victoria. The government has also signaled it could fund more coal and gas projects down the track.

Professor Will Steffen, Climate Councillor and Emeritus Professor, ANU Fenner School of Environment & Society, said: “As many Australians choke through an unprecedented bushfire crisis, the Federal Government is supporting new fossil fuel projects that will drive further climate change, worsening bushfires and other extreme weather events.”

“People have lost their lives and homes; much of our irreplaceable natural heritage has been destroyed, and communities are suffering serious economic losses because of these unprecedented bushfires. But the government is still failing to tackle the root cause of this worsening problem.

“Federal politicians have finally acknowledged the influence of climate change on this crisis, but this acknowledgement is meaningless if they keep backing fossil fuel projects instead of delivering the urgent and significant emissions cuts we need,” said Steffen. Dr Martin Rice, Head of Research, Climate Council, added: “The Federal Government has a shameful track record of attempting to fly under the radar and avoid scrutiny by making climate-related announcements before major holidays. Announcing its support for new fossil fuel projects at Christmas is more of the same tactic.

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  1. Andrew Picaro

    I have reviewed the AEMO Draft Integrated System Plan.  It is pretty clear that coal genreration will reduce, and VREs (Variable Renewable Energy like solar) will massively increase.  The AEMO plan includes grid augmentation to allow the connection of a lot more renewables; but these will take time, and some grid backup is needed prior to these augmentations.

    Due to the intermittent nature of solar and wind, including the very large component of rooftop solar, when VRE increases, a large amount of dispatchable peaking plant like pumped hydro or peaking gas is required – 5 – 30 GW of it!

    So the Federal Government recent “back-door” underwriting of two gas plants is a halfway point between VREs+pumped hydro (zero emissions) and coal (maximum emissions), so represents a partial win in that at least it’s not a coal plant!  

    Ideally the VRE backup would be from pumped hydro.

    However, the Feds are backing Snowy 2.0 as the long-term pumped hydro solution for the grid, when to my knowledge, there are cheaper and better system pumped hydro solutions ready to go all around the East Coast, but no Federal Government underwriting appetite for these smaller distributed pumped hydro projects as they would undermine the business case for Snowy 2.0.  So the Feds back expensive and diminishing supplies of gas as a peak solution instead of pumped hydro, as they are “locked in” to Snowy 2.0 as a low emission “showpiece”.

    Note that while AEMO can issue all sorts of plans, there are no enforceable elements to these plans.  So while at State level we see a higher commitment to renewables, the Feds will do whatever their distorted ideological views tell them; they’ll simply ignore policy an scientific advice.  Angus Taylor is just ScoMo’s emissions attack dog, apparently void of comprehension of the cost issues (low for renewables, high for coal).  Which is why Angus bangs on about “reliability” all the time (he can’t argue with the fact that renewables are cheaper) – while ignoring the fact that renewables can be made highly reliable by using renewable pumped hydro; he’d rather believe in carbon and back gas (or coal) as the backup for renewables.

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