Recently the International Energy Agency published its Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Australia 2018 Review[i] (IEA Report). What interesting statistics did the IEA uncover, and what does the world think of our energy policies? We take a look.
The report deals with Australia’s total energy position and presents data showing energy supplies over time (Figure 1), as well as the sector where consumption occurs (Figure 2).
Source: IEA Report, p.26
Source: IEA Report, p.27
Other interesting data also appears in the report. For example, page 110 reports that “Electricity prices for households have increased significantly in Australia over the past decade, almost threefold, rising from USD 98 (AUD 134) per MWh in 2004 to USD 283 (AUD 314) per MWh in 2014.” However the report goes on to say that prices declined by 14 per cent in 2016 (except in Queensland) and when adjusted for purchasing power parity, Australian households’ electricity prices are among the ten lowest in the IEA member countries (Figure 3).
Source: IEA Report, p.111
There is also other interesting household data. Despite the common knowledge that electricity consumption peaks in summer due to air conditioning load, the IEA Report shows that most domestic energy consumption is due to heating rather than cooling (Figure 4).
Source: IEA Report, p.211
And while many are aware of the expected retirement schedule of NEM coal capacity, the IEA report presents it graphically, showing the 20GW reduction over the next thirty years (Figure 5).
Source: IEA Report, p.182
The report focuses on two main areas, energy security and energy system transformation, both of which are related to the transition to renewable forms of energy. The report observes that, “the country is in a paradoxical situation: while Australia is well endowed with natural resources, energy security risks across several sectors have increased”[ii].
Energy security is an increasing challenge for Australia, and the report suggests the National Energy Security Assessment, last updated in 2011[iii], should be revised to consider the current situation in which:
Similarly the transformation of the energy system to fulfil Australia’s international climate change ambitions is happening at a faster pace and scope than expected, but the report concludes that, “[c]urrent energy efficiency measures and climate mitigation policies are not sufficient” and “domestic efforts need to increase”.[iv] It does believe the National Energy Guarantee offers hope and concludes that, “The NEG could be an effective market-based mechanism if the government can ensure more competition, better interconnection among the NEM regions and stringent rules for the integration of renewable energy capacity into the system. The NEG cannot become a ‘silver-bullet’ and its design should remain compatible with the NEM energy-only market, otherwise, it could create new barriers and windfall profits, if those elements are not considered.”[v]
The report made 40 recommendations for improving Australia’s energy policies, the key recommendations from which are:
“The Government of Australia should:
[ii] IEA Report, p.38
[iv] IEA Report, p.17
[v] ibid., p.18
[vi] ibid., pp.21-22
In February Texas endured a winter storm that dragged temperatures well below freezing. Electricity generation plant and gas infrastructure proved unprepared for these temperatures and around a third of the state’s effective capacity went offline for some or all of this period, just as demand was spiking to a new winter record.
In 1971, when asked to assess the influence of the French Revolution, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai famously remarked that it is ‘too early to say’. So it is not surprising that after President Xi announced China’s aim to be net-zero by 2060, some commentators framed it as ‘the start of a marathon, not a sprint’. But is this assessment fair?
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