NSW Owens inquiry – one step forward, three steps back Media Release

Sep 14, 2007 - 3:43pm

The Climate Institute believes the recommendations of the Owens inquiry fail to address the fundamental questions facing the New South Wales electricity sector in a carbon constrained world.

The inquiry calls for the early decision on Australia’s short term emission cap and the implementation of an energy efficiency target but fails to acknowledge:

  1. To help avoid dangerous levels of climate change Australia will need to reverse rising greenhouse pollution levels within five years. This will not occur if any state builds new traditional fossil fuel based generation to meet new demand growth.
  2. The reality of global investment in clean energy. Clean energy sources of power are now mainstream investment choices for industry and in 2006, 20% of global investment in power generation was in clean energy sources.
  3. Independent modelling that shows that NSW electricity needs can be met with a portfolio of clean energy sources as long as governments provide leadership in implementing a comprehensive national plan to reverse rising pollution levels and switch Australia to clean energy.
Independent modelling by one of Australia’s leading electricity experts, provided to the Owen’s inquiry in the Climate Institutes submission, showed:
  • With no new policies greenhouse gas emissions from the NSW electricity sector will increase by around 30% by 2025. This is equivalent to adding over 4 million cars to NSW roads. This is inconsistent with State Government policy to stabilise emissions at 2000 levels by 2025.
  • Known clean energy power sources are available today and are capable of meeting NSW electricity needs to 2020. Under a scenario where moderate national greenhouse reduction policies are introduced, in 2020, coal generation stays at close to today’s levels, gas accounts for 9% of generation, and renewable energy such as wind and existing Snowy Hydro account for 21%. The impact of these greenhouse policies would be less then $4/week for the average NSW household and would stabilise the State’s electricity sector emissions at around today’s levels.

Ignoring the greenhouse implications, modelling also indicates that under current policy settings there is no need for a new base load power station in NSW for at least the next decade. Higher utilisation of the State’s existing capacity, current plant upgrades, further investment in new gas-fired peaking plants, and more renewable energy investment generated by the State’s renewable energy target is projected to supply NSW generation needs to around 2020.

The Climate Institute calls on the NSW Government to:

  1. Rule out any new fossil fuel base load generation that is not equipped with fully operative carbon capture and storage technology;
  2. Rule out indemnity against future carbon risk for new investment, and;
  3. In the absence of an expanded national clean energy target like MRET, increase the state renewable energy target to 20-25% of generation by 2020
Read our submission to the enquiry here
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