Coal told to accept deal
The Liberal New South Wales energy minister says the coal-fired power industry should accept that the clean energy target is “the best deal that coal will get”.
Energy Minister Don Harwin called for an end to the “self-indulgent climate culture war” in a speech delivered to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Sydney this week.
While the Federal Government has blamed NSW’s electricity supply issues on renewable energy, Harwin says it is fossil-fuel generators that cause the problems.
“Clean energy performed as forecast. Thermal generation did not,” Harwin said, referring to enforced blackouts designed to prevent a system collapse earlier this year.
“That day, I acknowledged the role played by all generation technologies in meeting the peak, including the effort of the 350,000 households with rooftop solar.”
Mr Harwin said that day showed “baseload power” is an outdated idea.
“This new paradigm is about better forecasting demand, factoring in intermittent sources, and then balancing the rest through dispatch and demand management,” he said.
He said low cost clean energy would have a “dramatic and disruptive” effect, which cannot be ignored.
Mr Harwin believes NSW’s target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is pragmatic, because it provides sorely needed certainty for investors.
“NSW won’t play politics on this question,” Mr Harwin said.
He said NSW had been “sideswiped” by national factors pushing up prices, such as the lack of confidence among investors and high gas prices.
The recent Finkel Review made 50 recommendations for Australia’s electricity system, but the big one - a clean energy target - has not yet adopted by the federal government.
“We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good, he said, referring to the Finkel process as “the last best chance to deliver good energy policy”.
The Federal Government “[knows] that NSW at COAG energy council will support initiatives that boost investor confidence,” Mr Harwin said.
“We look forward to them coming back following that additional work that they are going to do on the 50th Finkel recommendation.
“The coal sector should accept the Finkel framework as potentially the best deal that coal will get,” he said, in regard to the modelling that suggested a clean energy target could keep existing coal-fired electricity generators running.
Mr Harwin also gave in-principle support for Snowy 2.0.
“2,000 megawatts of dispatch is a game-changer,” he said.
The scheme could create the electricity storage needed to make variable energy sources like wind or solar more reliable “even when wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine”.