It didn’t take long for Nev Power’s boondoggle to descend into farce, at the AFR:
Former Fortescue Metals boss Nev Power has distanced himself from plans to dramatically increase public spending on gas infrastructure, saying a leaked document does not represent the view of the government’s COVID-19 commission.
A manufacturing taskforce established as part of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s National COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission drew up the plans for public ownership of new gas pipelines, underwritten gas supply projects and a national gas reservation policy.
The measures, part of efforts to turn back the clock on east coast gas prices and fuel a national manufacturing-led economic recovery, have been criticised by both renewable energy advocates and manufacturers wanting more immediate action to restore competitiveness at ailing plants.
Speaking to a Senate committee considering the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Power said the interim plan wasn’t the view of the commission and was the work of Mr Liveris’ team.
You don’t get to be Nev Power without knowing when to push your mates down the stairs.
So, we now have a “gas led recovery” report that makes no sense given it is undermining an existing deal between Centre Alliance and the Government for a toughening ADGSM to begin next month. And we have a “gas led recovery” co-ordinator, who is his himself badly compromised by links to gas, that doesn’t support it.
What’s the answer to this fake document produced by a fake commission in pursuit of a fake goal? Make it fakerer:
Officials from Scott Morrison’s department are refusing to release conflict of interest disclosures from members of the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission so they can be scrutinised by the public because the declarations are provided “in confidence”.
The departmental pushback has come in responses to questions on-notice from the Senate committee examining the government’s response to the pandemic.
Controversy has been escalating about the potential for conflicts of interest among the commissioners handpicked by the prime minister to provide advice at the height of the coronavirus crisis.
There will be no “gas led recovery”. There will be no manufacturing reboot. So far as I can tell, the Government has no intention of honouring its deal with Centre Alliance for tougher reservation.
John Hewson has a much better idea:
When I, and others, proposed gas as a transition fuel some 30 years ago, the price of solar was multiples of its current price, so gas was a quicker and more cost-effective means of achieving a reduction in emissions of some 40 to 60 per cent relative to coal.
However, as Chief Scientist Alan Finkel admitted in his recent address to the National Press Club, “the cost of producing electricity from wind and solar is now around $A50 per megawatt hour and [even with effective storage] the price … is lower than existing gas-fired electricity generation and similar to new-build, coal-fired electricity generation … and is set to drop even further”.
And with solar and wind technology proven, in the sense that financiers accept the risk without premium, why wouldn’t the government seek the development of grid-scale storage to achieve 100 per cent renewables? Clearly Morrison and his team have sold out to the likes of the Minerals Council and the fossil fuel lobby, whose influence is now conspicuous in the focus of the COVID recovery commission.
…The proponents of gas also downplay the fact that methane leaks go hand in hand with the processes for extracting, storing, and burning natural gas. Methane can have more than 80 times the climate-warming impact of CO2 over the first 20 years after it is released. If methane leaks at a rate greater than 3 per cent, there would be no immediate climate benefits from retiring coal-fired power plants in favour of natural gas power plants. A recent US study published in the journal Science found American oil and gas operations were leaking 60 per cent more methane than the EPA had previously calculated, and Trump has recently eased restrictions further.
Accelerating storage investment is a great way to reduce gas reliance and lower electricity prices.
Alas, instead, there will just be more gas cartel and everything getting fakerer.