Via the AFR:
Coal-fired generation equal to 10 Liddell power stations will have to be closed by 2036 for Australia to meet its Paris climate agreement pledge, the Australian Energy Market Operator says.
AEMO’s network development plan released last December said that for Australia to meet the pledge the Turnbull government made at the Paris climate talks in December 2015, 15.5 gigawatts of coal-fired generation would have to close between now and 2036.
That is equal to more than 10 times the effective output of Liddell, a 45-year-old power station in the Hunter Valley in NSW that AGL Energy, its owner, wants to close in 2022 in order to build more flexible wind, solar, gas peaking and demand response capacity.
The government pledged at Paris to reduce Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions by 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, to review the targets every five years and to work towards zero net carbon emissions – the level scientists say is needed from rich countries to limit temperature increases to 2 degree Celsius – by 2050.
…A more aggressive scenario – such as Labor’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target – or slower than expected growth in electricity demand would require an additional 3.3 GW of coal capacity or two or three Liddells to be shuttered.
And John Hewson:
Finkel went to great lengths to recognise the political reality of the government’s objections to the best and second best, responses – namely, an emissions trading scheme and an emissions intensity scheme – proposing a technology neutral clean energy target (CET) to provide a clear direction and certainty for the essential transition to reach our Paris commitments by 2030. While this clearly contemplated the necessary further movement to renewables as a source of power, it still admitted a sizeable reliance on coal-fired power by that date.
It is worth pointing out that a true “conservative” response would be a purely market-based emissions trading scheme, using a market-determined carbon price to ensure the most cost-effective transition.
The suggestion that we may now need a new, supercritical, coal-fired power plant to fill a capacity gap left by the closure of Liddell is, quite frankly, farcical. When the private sector says they will not build or finance it, it is simply just a sop to the National party to even raise it as a possibility. But then, of course, in our “new conservatism” we don’t respect what markets are telling us, do we?
This “gap” would be easily filled by a combination of base-load solar thermal projects, batteries and some better demand management well before 2022. Having set the regulatory direction of the “market” with a CET, the government should stand back and let the technologies compete to deliver the most cost-effective and sustainable outcome.
It is also worth recognising that a new coal-fired power plant, if it could be built, may simply accelerate the closures of other older, less efficient, plants, so not actually closing the perceived “gap”.
Turnbull needs to rise well above this mire and deliver the leadership he promised on assuming the prime ministership. If he does, I believe the electorate would cut him a lot of slack. However, to continue as he is, he will surely lose the next election. It will be his failure to address the rising costs of power, housing, childcare and school fees, and other key elements of the cost of living, that will be decisive with voters.
Turnbull will lose. Bring it on.