Unpacking the Finkel Review

On Friday, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, released the findings of a review into the future of the National Electricity Market.

The Finkel Review was tasked with developing a “blueprint” for the national electricity market (NEM) that:

  • delivers on Australia’s emissions reduction commitments
  • provides affordable electricity, and
  • ensures a high level of security and reliability.

It's a hefty 212 page document so we've put together an explainer to help unpack the content.

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The Finkel Review is an opportunity for politicians, regulators and industry to deliver for much needed certainty for climate and energy policy in Australia.

However, there are a number of concerns relating to how the Finkel Review addresses climate change and renewable energy:

  • The 28% minimum emissions reduction for the electricity sector is far too weak even to meet the Federal Government’s 2030 targets
  • Power generated by renewable energy in 2030 under the proposed Clean Energy Target – at 42% - is far too low.
  • Gas and coal with carbon capture and storage are polluting and should not qualify under a Clean Energy Target.
  • Requirements on new generation should be technology neutral, not act as a restriction on wind and solar development.
  • Australia needs to phase out coal, quickly. The Finkel Review does not place any requirement on coal plants to close (other than recommending a three-year notice of closure for generators).
  • Gas is polluting. The Review claims “gas contributes to emissions reduction”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Finkel Review report is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to reduce the emissions of Australia’s biggest polluter - the electricity sector - by ramping up renewables and energy storage uptake and making energy efficiency improvements.

Australians are crying out for a strong, clear direction from government. The review is an orange rather than green light for a renewable powered future.

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