COMMENT: Positive energy despite review’s many holes

The term “cheap energy” has been on the tip of politician’s tongues in recent days, but with power bills ever on the increase, consumers may be sceptical of ever paying less for their energy needs.

But, if Australia's Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel’s review is anything to go by, we can live the dream of security, reliability, rewarded consumers and lower emissions.

Dr Finkel recommended an extremely slow phase out of coal-fired power plants, better system planning and stronger governance.

Consultancy firm Jacobs Group, who created the modelling for the review, seemed to ignore new battery storage technology, large falls in the cost of wind and solar technology, and has been criticised for over-estimating the cost of building new renewable energy plants.

Developments in battery storage are a big step forward in providing grid security, and replacing coal at a cheaper cost to us all than gas.

The company admits it did not always verify the “accurateness and completeness” of information provided to it by its client. “If the information is subsequently determined to be false, inaccurate or incomplete then it is possible that our observations and conclusions as expressed in this report may change,” its June 13 report states.

All of this makes you wonder if the review is ambitious enough.

Energy talk has destabilised us politically, created friction where there really shouldn’t be any, and has polarised the nation no reason other than political donations and angry faces during question time and election campaigns.

The pricing of carbon destabilised Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, and the scrapping of it didn’t seem to save Tony Abbott. Despite the chaos of the political stage, positive things are actually happening in the real world.

Weak energy governance, and lack of planning has led to the creation of positive startups like Power Ledger, a blockchain energy-trading company enabling households and businesses with solar panels and batteries to trade their surplus energy with each other.

As someone who has seen a nation as big as Japan survive after closing down all its nuclear reactors, it’s hard to know what to believe.

I always wonder how secure they felt during the tragic triple-meltdown.


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