THE carbon tax is making Australia more, not less, dependent on the highly polluting brown-coal electricity generators. Billion-dollar subsidies have allowed the Victorian operations to force cleaner base-load power stations out of the market.
An analysis of the National Electricity Market has shown that brown coal is taking a bigger share at the expense of black coal in NSW and South Australia.
The federal government’s decision to abandon a planned buyout of brown-coal generation in Victoria has sparked a free-for-all in the debate over Australia’s future energy policy.
Environment groups have called for billions of dollars in compensation to Victoria’s brown-coal generators to be withheld and the Australian Coal Association has called for the federal government’s Mandatory Renewable Energy Target to be scrapped.
Meanwhile, the ACA, which represents black-coal producers in NSW and Queensland, said Australians needed to be fully informed about the cost and complexity of transitioning to a low-emissions economy.
The ACA endorsed the call by Queensland Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark McArdle for the renewable energy target and associated schemes to be subject to review by the Productivity Commission. “The RET is fundamentally bad policy because it mandates the deployment of costly, mature technologies, notably wind, rather than supporting research and development for all low-emissions technologies and leaving the market to deploy the most efficient options,” ACA chief executive Nikki Williams said.
“With Australia’s carbon tax now in place, the RET merely adds to the cost of achieving our abatement target rather than producing additional abatement.
“Furthermore, renewable energy sources are generally intermittent and must be supplemented by conventional baseload and peaking power,” Dr Williams said.
The federal government is currently reviewing the MRET.