ELS Fortnightly News Wrap Up #4

Each fortnight, the team at ELS publish a news digest covering energy and sustainability. We read for our own pleasure but to save you time we identify a handful of pertinent articles from Australia and around the globe and add our own commentary. It used to be an internal memo but we kept being asked to share it, so here it is.

This fortnight has seen activity in just about every area of energy and sustainability. From climate change reports, stunning solar pricing, domestic gas reservation and generators going down, its been interesting to say the least. Here are five of the best for your weekend reading:

Energy deal could hit confidence, undermine tax cut funding, gas sector warns
No surprises here really, with the gas industry coming out swinging against any proposed changes to export triggers or mentions of domestic gas reservation on the east cost of Australia. The Feds have been wedged by Centre Alliances’ demands for action on gas pricing considering we’ve become the largest exporter of natural gas yet are paying much higher prices than some other countries, or even states in Australia. WA has domestic gas reservation and a gas price that has been consistently below the east coast price since the ramp up of gas exports. Ultimately it looks like the gas industry has shot itself in the foot, hastening the transition away from gas and a government taking a more proactive approach to regulation.

Victoria rooftop solar rebate in hot demand with July quota filled in just days
Once again we are seeing why market based mechanisms work better than quotas or more direct forms of government intervention. The stop-start nature of this scheme seems to be frustrating just about everyone and is a far cry from what was seen previously when just the Renewable Energy Target was applicable to rooftop solar installations. While it’s great to see the state government trying to get involved and incentivise rooftop solar, we think the state government has been wide of the mark this time.

Another coal unit breakdown in Victoria, with five thermal units now offline
The good old (emphasis on the old) ‘fair dinkum’ power stations in Victoria are having a tough time of late, with maintenance and an unexpected trip taking out two units at the Yallourn coal fired power station in Victoria. This comes after one of the gas generation units at Mortlake Peaking Plant was taken out this week. In summary - and as we understand - 2,133MW of coal and gas generation are currently ‘sitting on the sidelines’ in Victoria. It could be a long summer for those at AEMO planning for the hotter months.

Coal and gas on notice as US big solar and battery deal stuns market
I just about had to pick my jaw off the floor when I saw the pricing involved a recent solar and storage PPA in the States. Under US$20/MWh for solar and US$13/MWh for stored solar power is a truly remarkable price. Putting aside any ideolegy or favouritism towards renewables, the quoted price will kill any market for new fossil fuel energy sources….. and assuming it is a sign of things to come, then the energy race is over… renewables have already won.

Morrison government experts say Australia must ‘do more’ on climate
Unfortunately we can’t say this is the first time we’ve heard this, and no doubt it won’t be the last. The lack of long term planning and setting of targets around climate change - emissions reduction, climate adaptation and mitigation - will ultimately harm the long term interests of Australia. The move away from fossil fuels is here to stay and as just about every news outlet reports, it’s coming fast. We mentioned it last fortnight, the absence of an ‘orderly transition’ will impact those with most to loose (i.e. workers in the fossil fuel sector). A recent example is how the closure of Hazelwood power station in Victoria affected the Latrobe Valley.

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