Monday, 13 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to Senator Birmingham, the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Energy. I refer to the Energy Security Board's modelling of the government's National Energy Guarantee. Can the minister confirm that, according to the modelling, the government's plan will deliver no new coal generation between 2022 and 2030?
In relation to the specific projections about the future mix and composition of the generation markets, I am happy to provide further information to the senator if I can. But certainly in relation to the modelling, as I've already highlighted to the senator, the modelling makes very clear that there are savings to be achieved for households and businesses across Australia and that those savings are quite significant. Australian households can expect to see a projected saving in the order of $550 as a result of the implementation of the National Energy Guarantee. That of course translates into thousands of dollars for small businesses, medium-sized businesses and large businesses, all of which will benefit from the extra certainty the National Energy Guarantee will provide as well as from the lower energy prices.
The National Energy Guarantee itself is part of the government's technology-neutral approach in terms of our support for energy development in Australia. We want to make sure that energy development is at the lowest price and that it is absolutely as reliable as is required to provide certainty for Australian businesses and households so that, when they flick the switch, the power will be there. And we want to make sure that we meet our international obligations. But, unlike those opposite, we're not into picking winners; we're into ensuring that we have a technology-neutral approach to the way in which the policies are applied.
I only asked one question, and it was a specific question. It was about the government's modelling and whether the government could confirm that it will deliver no new coal generation between 2022 and 2030. That's all I asked.
Thank you, Senator Marshall. You've kindly reminded Senator Birmingham of the question. He has 32 seconds remaining to answer. I note he said he will provide further information as part of his answer, but he has 30 seconds remaining to answer the question.
Yes, indeed I did indicate that we could bring back further information if required. I can certainly inform the senator that the Australian Energy Market Operator's Integrated System Plan highlights the transition that's underway in the national energy market but, importantly, that low-cost thermal generation clearly is expected to remain an important part of our energy mix, including coal and natural gas, which produced some 87 per cent of total electricity generated in the NEM in 2017. And estimates are that there will continue to be very strong demand and requirement for such generation. (Time expired)
If the minister doesn't know, he should just say he doesn't know. I again refer to the Energy Security Board's modelling of the government's National Energy Guarantee. Can the minister confirm that, according to the modelling, the government's plan will deliver no new gas generation between 2022 and 2030?
(—) (): Once again, if there's further information in relation to the specifics of the energy mix, I will happily provide that to the senator in due course. I was just outlining some of the AEMO projections in relation to the energy mix, but an important point is that the government is not designing the NEG around the expectation that one or another energy generator ought to be supported over and above another particular one. We are developing the NEG on the basis of a neutral approach to technology, with a precondition and focus being on ensuring that it's reliable, that we have dispatchable energy in the market when it's required and, critically, that it's driving down prices. Driving down prices is what Australians care about. Australians care about the fact that, when they flick the switch, it's going to come on and, when they get the bill, it's going to cost them less. And that's what our policies will deliver. (Time expired)
Can the minister confirm that, according to the Energy Security Board's modelling of the government's plan, between 2022 and 2030 no new coal generation will be built, no new gas generation will be built and no new renewable generation will be built? Isn't it the case that the only impact of the National Energy Guarantee's generation capacity on the National Electricity Market is to decrease storage capacity by 75 megawatts?
I don't necessarily accept the premise or the analysis that Senator Marshall has presented, but I'll happily make sure that we provide a response in relation to any of the facts that he has outlined—and particularly whether the facts are as he claims them to be. But what is very clear is that the National Energy Guarantee provides a reliability standard that is, for the first time, integrated in relation to emissions policy and energy policy in Australia—a reliability guarantee that means that the power is there when you flick the switch; a reliability guarantee that ensures that Australians can have confidence that, unlike in my home state, which saw the catastrophe of a power blackout, Australians don't face a catastrophe like that again. It has also been developed in a way to drive prices down to ensure that Australians get the cheapest possible energy in the future so that, whether they are a household or they are a business, they will get savings, rather than the power hikes they’ve had under Labor. (Time expired)