(EnergyAsia, February 22 2012, Wednesday) — The Australian government is focused on enhancing energy security, market reforms, developing the country’s vast natural gas resources, and encouraging the development of clean energy use.
The goals were spelt out in the recently released draft Energy White Paper for public consultation, alongside the 2011 National Energy Security Assessment and the Strategic Framework for Alternative Transport Fuels. The papers are part of a series of latest government initiatives to address challenges confronting Australia’s energy sector.
The draft Energy White Paper calls for strengthening the resilience of Australia’s energy-policy framework, re-invigorating market reform, developing the country’s energy resources (particularly gas), and accelerating clean energy outcomes.
The Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism has begun a period of consultation on the draft Energy White Paper, including information sessions to be held in every state and territory capital city with deadline for written submissions set on March 16 2012.
The government said it plans to release the final Energy White Paper around mid-2012.
The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, said:
“Over the next two decades, Australia will require massive investment in the gas and electricity sectors – around $240 billion in generation, transmission and distribution.
“We need sound regulatory frameworks and confidence from investors to ensure that the necessary investment is delivered, and the White Paper seeks to deliver this stable framework.
“The 2011 National Energy Security Assessment shows that overall Australia has a positive energy security assessment but we must remain vigilant, and the White Paper seeks to establish a more robust policy framework to increase our responsiveness to emerging challenges.
“In a period of significant change, improving the resilience of energy policy is critical. The government therefore proposes that a strategic review of national energy policy be undertaken every four years, supported by a review every two years of national energy security. This will allow us to assess, and respond as required to emerging strategic market or policy developments in a timely and predictable way.
“The White Paper also focuses on the next round of energy market reform including further privatisation of energy assets and the removal of retail price regulation to increase efficiencies and remove distortions in markets that deter private sector investment and are harmful to consumers’ interests.
“Further work should also be undertaken to extend energy market governance arrangements and principles to all Australian energy markets.
“In terms of consumers, the government recognises that the community has experienced a period of rising energy prices. The White Paper recognises the need for greater consumer engagement to improve community understanding of investment and price drivers, which can lead to greater empowerment in terms of making informed decisions around managing energy use and associated costs.
“In a period of significant change, improving the resilience of energy policy is critical. The government therefore proposes that a strategic review of national energy policy be undertaken every four years, supported by a review every two years of national energy security. This will allow us to assess, and respond as required to emerging strategic market or policy developments in a timely and predictable way.”
Alongside the release of the draft Energy White Paper, and following the passage of legislation giving effect to the carbon price, the government also announced it would no longer proceed with the introduction of emissions standards or ‘carbon capture and storage ready’ requirements for new coal fired power stations.
“With the legislation of a carbon price, the government has a position that it is best to let the market determine the most efficient investment outcomes within the energy market, carbon price and Renewable Energy Target framework.”