Do-Labor Malcolm is happy at the AFR:
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says chief scientist Alan Finkel’s report on energy security will take the “ideology and politics” out of climate policy.
Dr Finkel will present his review to Mr Turnbull and premiers at COAG in Hobart on Friday.
The centrepiece of Dr Finkel’s report is his recommendation for the introduction of a technology-neutral Low Emissions Target or Clean Energy Target.
And it looks a reasonable outcome:
Chief Scientist Alan Finkel will tell state and federal leaders on Friday that a clean energy target will have the lowest impact on power prices of any scheme, and will be cheaper than continuing to do nothing.
…Dr Finkel will also recommend that the operators of all large power generators, be they coal, gas or even large-scale renewable, must give three years’ notice before closing a facility. This is to avoid a repeat of the rapid announcement and closure of Victoria’s Hazlewood power station by French operator Engie earlier this year which took away one quarter of Victoria’s base-load power and is contributing to the new price hikes on July 1.
To improve stability of renewable energy, Dr Finkel will recommend new generation investment must have a degree of storage capacity such as batteries, or back-up generation capacity
…As revealed by The Australian Financial Review on Thursday, Dr Finkel now believes a clean energy target, also known as a Low Emissions Target (LET) is preferable to an Emissions Intensity Scheme (EIS) which was Labor’s preferred policy. It is believed this is partly because the high cost of gas means a potentially quicker phase out of coal fired power under an EIS would create stability problems because gas would be too expensive to replace coal and while renewable storage was still underdeveloped.
Under an EIS, polluting is free to a certain level above which penalties are imposed. Under a clean energy target, a certain percentage of energy each year must be generated from “low emissions” sources which would be technology agnostic. They would include renewable energy, gas and coal that uses carbon capture and storage technology, if it can be developed.
The government will adopt the recommendation for a clean energy target to operate from 2020 onwards but must decide what baseline to use. A baseline is the amount of carbon pollution per megawatt hour of power produced. Anything below that baseline constitutes a low emissions source.
But at The Australian, what’s it all for?
The most advanced new coal-fired power station, using “high-energy, low-emissions” technology already in place in 750 power stations across Asia, would need a benchmark of at least 0.75 tonnes to qualify for the new scheme.
…Bill Shorten moved to exploit Coalition divisions over coal power yesterday by offering an “olive branch” to Mr Turnbull to support the energy reforms but only on the condition it discouraged coal power and imposed a price on carbon emissions.
“Unless it has a price signal on emissions, then it’s a waste of time,” the Opposition Leader said.
“But if there is a price signal on emissions, which ensures that we get investment going forward into new sustainable forms of energy, which doesn’t guarantee just repeated investment in new coal-fired power stations, then we think there’s a deal there to be done.”
Tony Abbott stepped up pressure on Mr Turnbull to ensure coal was included in a new scheme, saying he expected “plenty of discussion” about the issue in the Coalition partyroom. “The demonisation of coal is just wrong,” the former prime minister said.
Dr Finkel was adamant in his briefing that his “technology-neutral” plan would not prefer one source of power over another, those close to the talks say.
Sadly the debate will now shift to the baseline which will either be high enough to incorporate coal to satisfy the loon pond and put everyone else off or low enough to satisfy Labor and the Greens and put the loons off.
I fear nothing has changed.