The evidence from The Australian Power Generation Technology Report suggests that natural gas has a long-term future in Australia’s energy generation mix, delivering lower emissions and cost competitive, reliable power – but that it should be used in combination with other energy sources.
While renewable energy sources such as wind and solar were unsurprisingly confirmed to produce the lowest emission levels, the inability to produce reliable and consistent electricity as well as large upfront costs is still holding them back from becoming the dominant energy sources.
Dr Malcolm Roberts, The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association chief executive, said in reaction to the report “By every measure – costs, water use, emissions, waste and reliability – natural gas is strongly competitive against other generation types. Natural gas and coal remain the cheapest sources of baseload power.
“And combined cycle natural gas plants can provide baseload power at a comparable cost to efficient, super-critical coal-fired plants but with the critical advantage of much lower emissions.”?
The Australian Power Generation Technology Report is the result of collaborative work carried out by CO2CRC, CSIRO, Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), Anlec R&D, and the Department of Industry and Science – Office of the Chief Economist and aimed to provide an unbiased, neutral review of technologies including coal, natural gas, solar, wind, geothermal, hydro-electric, nuclear, biomass as well as energy storage technologies.
The report recommends that future generation combinations should be determined by evaluating prices across the day and year, and then investigating different combinations of supply to keep costs down whilst satisfying other constraints including the reliability of supply and environmental considerations.
Report Chair Tania Constable, CEO CO2CRC said “As Australia and the world seek energy options that balance financial cost and environmental impact, the assessments presented in this Report will help inform the mix of technologies we choose to utilise.”?
Dr Alex Wonhas, Executive Director, Environment, Energy and Resources at CSIRO said “This is the best possible data available, providing a levelised cost of electricity in Australia to date. The report’s independence, thoroughness and transparency will make it a credible tool for a broad range of decision makers.”?
With the world looking to Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the findings are released in time to potentially influence global policies on the future mix of electricity generation.