Media Release: Energy experts: Aussies paying the price, while pollution rises

Australian households and businesses will be hit with higher power prices under a greater gas-reliant energy grid that will do little to stop pollution, according to the Climate Council’s latest report.

The ‘Pollution and Price: The cost of investing in gas,’ report shows Australia must continue its transition away from fossil fuel power, including gas if we are to tackle climate change.

Climate Councillor and former President of BP Australasia Greg Bourne said the majority of Australia’s gas reserves must be left in the ground in order to limit the impact of climate change on extreme weather and the Great Barrier Reef.

“Don’t believe the hype. Gas is polluting, contributing to our emissions. Any perceived climate benefits for gas are short-term and potentially cancelled out with methane emissions created from gas production and its supply chain.”

“Gas prices have been rising and all the evidence shows they will keep rising. In contrast our report shows that renewable energy is now cost competitive with gas.”

Key Findings include:

  • Australia’s energy system is ageing, inefficient and polluting and generation capacity will need to be replaced.
  • Australia’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports are pushing up the price of gas power at the expense of Australian households and business because domestic gas prices are now inextricably linked to world market prices for oil. Gas prices will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.
  • Expanding gas for power would require a massive expansion of unconventional gas, including tens of thousands of new coal seam gas wells.
  • Unconventional gas expansion is costly due to the need to source more and more uneconomic sources of gas and community opposition.
  • New renewable energy is cost competitive with new gas today. The cost of renewable power and storage, particularly solar, wind and batteries, continues to fall and has no associated
 fuel costs.
  • Tackling climate change and protecting Australia from worsening climate impacts requires our energy system to reach net zero emissions before 2050.
  • Reliance on gas power, as well as coal, in Australia must be rapidly and deeply reduced if we are to fulfil our commitment to limit global temperature below 2°C.

Climate Councillor and Energy sector veteran of more than 40 years, Andrew Stock who was responsible for overseeing development of the last three large gas power stations built on the east coast said more gas now means higher power prices for Australians.

“Australia’s massive expansion of international gas exports is pushing up power prices here on home soil. We’re now in a situation where Australia has over-committed to its gas exports, resulting in even steeper domestic prices. Prices will only rise into the future,” he said.

Stock said using gas power stations as a stop gap to transition to renewable energy and storage technology was financially risky and would lock in up to a billion tonnes of extra pollution over future decades.

“Relying on gas requires a dramatic expansion in infrastructure, thousands more unconventional gas wells and brings substantial stranded asset risks. The point is - we can do the job of reaching zero emissions power well before 2050 without gas and much cheaper with renewables and much cheaper with renewables.”

“Clean, smart, affordable renewable energy power is available now. Technologies such as solar thermal, hydro and biomass plants can meet demand for electricity in Australia at all times of the day as well as meeting technical requirements for grid stability.

“Combining these technologies with wind, solar PV, and large-scale energy storage, can meet electricity demand round-the-clock, without locking in future emissions, or volatile high power prices.”

“Existing gas may have a role to in complementing wind and solar power while a broader range of renewable power sources are scaled up.”

For more information please contact Media Advisor Alexia Boland on 0430 511 068.

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