APPEA has responded to a new Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) report, which warns of potential power shortages in the National Electricity Market when coal-fired generation is retired, and has said natural gas could fill in the gaps.

The AEMO 2016 Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) predicts that if coal-fired power stations are retired to meet carbon emissions reduction commitments, other sources of electricity would be required to reduce risks of power shortages.

APPEA Chief Executive Dr Malcolm Roberts said natural gas was the perfect energy source to fill the generation gaps identified by the AEMO.

“Gas should be playing a greater role in Australia’s future energy mix because it perfectly complements renewables,” Dr Roberts said.

“It’s clean, it’s abundant and it can easily be switched on and off when intermittent renewables cannot meet demand.

“Reducing emissions is essential but ensuring reliable energy supply is just as important.

“Both are at risk from ongoing moratoriums and unnecessary restrictions on natural gas development.”

Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) Chief Executive Cheryl Cartwright also supports the natural gas as an alternative to fill the gaps identified by the report. 

“Using a combination of renewable energy sources and natural gas to generate electricity would enable Australia to reduce carbon emissions to meet its commitment,” Ms Cartwright said.

“Renewables plus natural gas is the logical way forward for an economy that wants to reduce emissions efficiently and economically.”

Ms Cartwright said the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) energy ministers need to seize the opportunity to encourage investment in gas and gas markets.

“Ministers must demonstrate they recognise the value of gas in a carbon-constrained economy,” Ms Cartwright said.

“Electricity generated by natural gas has less than half the emissions of electricity generated by coal.

“Energy ministers would also do well to avoid unnecessary regulation of the gas industry as this hampers the effective operation of the market.

“Increased gas supply would see an increase in liquidity and competition in the gas market bringing lower prices for consumers and helping to avoid any risk to power supply because of the unreliability of renewable energy and lack of energy storage.”

Ms Cartwright has called on COAG energy ministers to introduce sensible policies for gas and gas markets which encourage competition and transparency rather than increase regulation and stifle investment in the industry.

Lauren Cella

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