Updated Tuesday 1000 – Final coverage summary of #Finkel Review #auspol
LATEST – FINAL AS AT 1000 TUESDAY
Note: The coverage summary doesn’t include links to stories behind the The Australian and Australian Financial Review paywalls.
Podcast – Renew Economy
MONDAY 12 NOON
Power generators give Finkel report cautious supportAustralia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, talks to The Australian’s David Crowe
The Finkel Review was an opportunity to propose a science-based approach to the short and long-term development of Australia’s electricity sector consistent with the low-carbon transformation required to meet the goals and obligations of the Paris Agreement. Unfortunately, should the government accept the minimum electricity sector pathway suggested by the Finkel Review, Australia would very likely not be able to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to adopt measures to hold global warming well below 2°C and limit this to 1.5°C.
The Australia Institute
Various authors – The Conversation
- Honorary Associate Professor, Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, Australian National University
- Senior Industry Fellow, RMIT University
- Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Melbourne
Alan Kohler – The Australian
“We need a plan,” says the Finkel Review. Good idea — but it really shouldn’t have been needed at all. That it was needed is a shocking indictment of all the people who are well paid to operate the electricity system and plan for its future — bureaucrats and politicians — but instead they have been milling about and squabbling — and just falling down on the job. There have been many plans and reviews over the years, but they were mostly consigned to the shredder of politics. There are two important recommendations in this one, apart from the existence of a plan at all: first, what Finkel calls the clean energy target and second, a demand response mechanism.
FROM FRIDAY BEFORE 1800
Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel has unveiled a blueprint to optimise the National Electricity Market as a world-class electricity system that can serve the needs of today and rise to the challenges of tomorrow.
Katharine Murphy – Guardian
Australia’s chief scientist says a new clean energy target will deliver lower power prices to consumers than the status quo, but his report also models a scheme with a low target for emissions reduction from the electricity sector.
In his much anticipated review of the national electricity market, Alan Finkel has examined a scheme with an emissions reduction target of 28% on 2005 levels by 2030, rather than the reductions of 60% that some experts say would be necessary for Australia to meet its whole-of-economy pollution reduction target under the Paris climate accord.
Finkel’s report, given to the Turnbull government and the premiers on Friday, says the clean energy target (CET) modelled by the review would result in lower residential and industrial electricity prices than leaving policy settings unchanged.
It says the CET scenario is more favourable to the hip pocket than an emissions intensity trading scheme – a form of carbon trading supported by a range of experts and industry stakeholders – but the CET would see more electricity produced by brown coal “because there is no penalty for high emissions generators”.
The report also warns governments that setting a higher target for electricity than a 28% reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 trajectory “may have consequences for security, cost and reliability”.
Peter Hannam – Sydney Morning Herald
Friday marks an important day in Australia’s efforts to settle on climate action but those hoping chief scientist Alan Finkel has puzzled out a durable and effective solution are likely to be disappointed.
The review recommends the electricity sector merely meets the 28 per cent cut in 2005-level emissions by 2030 pledged to the Paris climate accord by the Abbott-Turnbull governments.
The result is a report that is as much a roadmap for politicians to get out of the energy and climate mire rather than one that serves Australia’s climate goals – and what other nations expect of us.
The problem with the 28 per cent figure – which the government says Finkel chose himself – is the electricity sector has always been expected to lead the reduction event both in Australia and almost every other nation.
If that’s all the power sector delivers, Australia will get nowhere near the 2030 Paris goal it has promised because other parts of the economy are much harder to tackle especially without an economy-wide carbon price.
Giles Parkinson – Renew Economy
In the first draft of the Finkel Review, chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel spoke of an “unstoppable” energy transition, driven by new technologies and the role of the consumer.
But but he may just have found a way for skittish politicians and incumbent utilities to throw a spanner in the works and slow it down. This report had the opportunity to redefine the energy markets. But, to borrow an expression, it reads more like history ++ at best, rather than Grid 2.0.
That’s because Finkel has been focused on trying to find a pathway through the toxic energy politics in Australia, and accommodating the Coalition’s modest climate targets, rather than seizing the moment and outlining what can and should happen, and what Australia would need to do to meet the Paris climate targets.
That it only modeled the Coalition’s initial down-payment for the Paris climate deal, and not its likely obligations in a world that vowed to cap average global warming at “well below 2°C” can be seen as a huge victory for the incumbents.
Sophie Vorrath & Giles Parkinson – Renew Economy
Australia’s chief scientist has called for the adoption of a “technology neutral” Clean Energy Target, the staggered “orderly” closure of existing coal and gas plant, and tighter governance of the incumbent power generation sector, as key planks for reform in his major review of Australia’s troubled energy market.
The highly anticipated report – tabled by Alan Finkel on Friday, eight months after it was commissioned following the system black event in South Australia in late September – tackles the key issues of electricity supply cost, security and reliability, as the nation transitions away from fossil fuels and towards distributed renewable energy generation.
And the overriding message from Dr Finkel is clear: “To achieve this…. we need a plan.”
Crucially, says Finkel, this plan must be based on a national emissions reduction trajectory that everyone – Australian, state and territory governments from both sides of the political spectrum – agrees to.
But his modelling, and his policy suite, is based only on the Coaliton’s modest target of a 28 per cent cut in emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, heading towards zero emissions only in the second half of the century (2070).
Giles Parkinson – Renew Economy
Chief scientist Alan Finkel’s plans for Australia’s energy future – and a new mechanism called a “clean energy target” – appears to throw a lifeline to the Australian coal generation industry, but basically throws the gas generation sector to the wolves.
Modelling done by the Finkel review actually shows the share of coal generation would be double that than would occur under “business as usual”. The gas generation industry is devastated, at least compared to business as usual.
Under the scenario, coal fired generation is still providing one quarter of Australia’s electricity generation by 2050, with the Finkel Review only contemplating the Coalition target of reaching zero emissions by 2050.
That is more than business as usual (19 per cent) and implies that some coal generation will continue to operate past their current use by date.
Indeed, the modelling for the Finkel Review says renewable energy will account for 42 per cent of total generation, but this includes the 9 per cent from rooftop solar. Large scale renewable energy will increase to only 33 per cent over the decade to 2030 from around 23.5 per cent in 2020, when the renewable energy target is met.
By 2050, the modelling suggests, large scale renewables will rise to 62 per cent, with another 11 per cent from rooftop solar, suggesting some sort of slow down in the share of rooftop capacity.
It contrasts sharply with the predictions of the CSIRO, which saw nearly half of all generation from rooftop solar by that time, and more than 90 per cent overall from renewable energy.
David Crowe – The Australian
The report to Mr Turnbull and the state premiers found that both policies were better than business as usual and that both the CET and the EIS approaches would lead to a shift in the national electricity grid to 42 per cent of power coming from renewable sources by 2030.
These findings are central to the emerging political debate on whether the Coalition and Labor can agree on a Clean Energy Target similar in structure to the policy John Howard took to the election in 2007.
In a finding that is likely to infuriate the Greens and trigger dissent within Labor ranks, the new report suggests phasing out the existing Renewable Energy Target by 2020 in order to shift to the broader Clean Energy Target, which could include fossil fuels such as gas power and possibly coal in addition to renewables.
ADDED AFTER 1730 FRIDAY
INDUSTRY AND ENVIRONMENT GROUPS
Chief Scientist Alan Finkel was given an impossible task: design an energy system that would tackle global warming but still keep Tony Abbott and the climate deniers happy. The result of Finkel’s mission impossible is a clean energy target that is actually very, very dirty.
Energy Efficiency Council have applauded the Finkel Review’s call for governments to move decisively to incentivise smart energy use with a ‘demand response mechanism’. However, the Council also warned that many previous reports have highlighted these opportunities with little result, and called for decisive, bipartisan action from governments to finally unlock these benefits for consumers and households.
Investor Group on Climate Change
The Blueprint for the Future released today by the Finkel Review is an important contribution to the climate and energy debate in Australia and offers a real opportunity to build a pathway forward for the energy sector.
National environment group Friends of the Earth say the Federal Coalition government’s Finkel Review on energy has ignored the latest science on climate change and health impacts from coal pollution. Friends of the Earth’s climate change spokesperson Leigh Ewbank is “shocked” by the report’s omissions given the scientific pedigree of the author, Dr Alan Finkel:
National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson hopes the release of the Finkel Review today will create the opportunity for a productive, national conversation about where to from here for Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM).
The Finkel Review offers a valuable plan to improve our energy system, but governments need to recognise that weak climate policy would undermine the Finkel plan’s ability to deliver electricity that is cleaner, cheaper and more secure, said The Climate Institute today.
Guardian – Michael Slezak
It seems likely that the weak recommendations made by Finkel were intended to give something palatable to a Coalition government containing a conservative rump that wants state-subsidised fossil fuel generation, seemingly just for the sake of it.
But as things stand, Australia doesn’t have an emissions reduction policy. In fact, Australia has emission growth policies, with the government’s own projections demonstrating current policies will cause carbon emissions to grow for decades.
A mechanism like the one Finkel proposed will at least cut emissions, even if by an amount that will still lead to catastrophic climate change.
But more hopefully, if it is implemented in the right way, it could be “ratcheted up” by future governments
Australian Labor Party – The Hon Mark Butler
Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy
LABOR WELCOMES THE FINKEL REVIEW
Labor welcomes the release of Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel’s review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market. Labor is committed to finding a solution to the energy crisis that has engulfed the country under this Government.
Wholesale power prices have doubled under the Turnbull Government as a result of an investment strike in new generation caused by policy paralysis. Under Malcolm Turnbull power prices are up, pollution is up and jobs are down.
Labor will carefully consider the recommendations of the report and will engage with businesses and other stakeholders to work towards an energy policy that will deliver for all Australians.
We need a plan for cheaper, cleaner and more secure power – and that must mean more renewables. We’re pleased the Finkel Review makes it unequivocally clear the best way to deliver cheaper, cleaner and more secure power is through renewable energy.
The pressure is now on Malcolm Turnbull to sign up to a market-based mechanism that supports investment in renewables and jobs. Malcolm Turnbull needs to stare down Tony Abbott and the climate change deniers in the Liberal Party and back a plan for more renewables.
Stephanie Peatling – Sydney Morning Herald
LAST UPDATED 1800 FRIDAY
The clean energy industry has welcomed the release of the final report from the Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel into Australia’s energy security and is calling on political leadership to finally end the energy crisis, the industry’s peak body said today. Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton says Dr Finkel’s report recognises that Australia has the clean energy technology and solutions to deliver a reliable power system, at affordable prices.
Australia’s Chief Scientist has delivered a hotly anticipated energy blueprint to the Turnbull Government, the Finkel Review, and it could shape our country’s renewable energy policy for decades to come. And that’s a big problem because the Finkel Review’s recommendations are bad news for solar and renewables. The report proposes a so-called “Clean Energy Target” that would subsidise more gas and coal. That sounds more like a dirty energy target to us. What’s more, the target would see only 42% of Australia’s electricity sourced from renewable power sources by 2030. What a flop!
Despite acknowledging that wind power is the cheapest source of new energy, the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, has prioritised the interests of incumbent coal generators and delayed the introduction of cheaper, cleaner wind power, the Australian Wind Alliance said.
ClimateWorks Australia today urged the Federal Government to ensure its policy decisions following the release of the Finkel Review put Australia on a trajectory of achieving the long-term goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. ClimateWorks Australia Acting CEO, Amandine Denis-Ryan said that policy recommended in the Finkel Review, including a possible Clean Energy Target (CET), needed to be designed in a way that enabled Australia to meet its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Adam Morton – The Age
The Chief Scientist says otherwise, but this is a political fix – and an understandable one. When Alan Finkel released a preliminary report into energy security last year, there was no mention of the latest policy now thrust into the centre of the decade-old political climate wars – the creatively named clean energy target. Six months on, it’s a central recommendation. It is also the last and best hope of anything meaningful getting up on climate and energy under this government.
The politics look difficult as hell, and it’s not what you would do if starting from scratch, but with a couple of adjustments it could deliver what Australia and the energy industry need: a path to encourage investment in new power plants and to start cutting greenhouse gas emissions from electricity. It should also help keep a lid on price rises and ensure the lights stay on.