The Powering Our Future report represents a way forward in the most contested policy debate of modern politics: climate change and energy policy.
The report by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy, of which I am Deputy Chair, adopted a cross-party approach. All recommendations were reached by consensus across four political parties and, if adopted, can underpin the rapid transformation of Australia’s energy sector into a renewable energy superpower.
It's time to put an end to the political knife fighting that has plagued energy policy for the better half of a decade.
23 recommendations were outlined in the report, all of which are absolutely crucial in achieving four key outcomes: to better increase the grid's security, to improve its reliability, to lower electricity costs for consumers, and to decarbonise the energy grid by supporting the transition to clean energy.
The first and most important recommendation of the report is to end the policy uncertainty that has characterised energy policy since 2009 when the Coalition dropped its commitment to a price on carbon. Lack of policy clarity has deterred energy investment. According to the Energy Council, this investment strike is the equivalent of a $50 per tonne carbon tax, but without the benefit of lowered carbon pollution through greater renewable investment.
The report found that industry needs to have confidence in investment – therefore, an emphasis on ending policy uncertainty and rapidly speeding up the rulemaking process in order for them to commit to long-term investment in renewable energy is good news.
Backing Labor policy, the report also recommended that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) establish Renewable Energy Zones. Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world.
We have some of the best wind and wave resources, with complimenting solar resources. Our geographical diversity north-south and east-west means that renewable energy generation can be established in separate regions to capture different periods of windiness and sunniness.
This will allow a much greater share of renewable energy in total energy production while maintaining reliability and security system.
The Committee also heard evidence that renewable energy can support system stability through the provision of Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) and synthetic inertia with appropriate regulatory settings.
MONDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2018