The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) Chief Executive Cheryl Cartwright has said Australia can reduce its carbon emissions through a technology-neutral emissions reduction system for electricity generation.

Ms Cartwright’s comments are in response to findings by the South Australian Royal Commission investigating the nuclear fuel cycle.

While the Royal Commission found that nuclear power is not yet feasible for Australia, it suggested carbon emissions from electricity generation could be effectively reduced with a combination of renewable technology and natural gas.

“A technology-neutral emissions-reduction scheme would encourage the efficient reduction of emissions,” Ms Cartwright said.

“The current system subsidises renewables, effectively discouraging the use of natural gas, which has less than half the emissions of coal-fired electricity generation.”

The Royal Commission found the national electricity market (NEM) is carbon-emissions intensive, does not require electricity generation sources to bear the full costs of their carbon emissions, and is subject to government interventions directed at lowering carbon emissions, which are not technology neutral and have not been demonstrated to achieve a low-carbon system with the lowest overall cost.

The Commission also recommended that a future national electricity supply system must be designed to be low-carbon and highly reliable at the lowest possible system cost. Resolving this ‘trilemma’ will be difficult and will require carefully considered government policies.

This recommendation highlights APGA’s call for a technology-neutral policy and would improve the operation of the gas market.

“Australia has abundant reserves of natural gas and the domestic gas market would benefit by increasing the number of participants and the supply of gas,” Ms Cartwright said.

“Government policies can help to ensure there is sufficient gas for both the export and domestic markets by encouraging development of those reserves.

APGA believes fairer treatment of natural gas in emissions-reduction policies would help to increase supply in the domestic market.

“We urge policymakers to take heed of the Royal Commission’s recommendation to ‘promote and collaborate on the development of a comprehensive national energy policy that enables all technologies, including nuclear, to contribute to a reliable, low-carbon electricity network at the lowest possible system cost’,” Ms Cartwright said.

Jessica Dickers

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