Australia’s Energy Crisis: How Can Such An Energy-Rich Country Be So Poor?

The answer is: bad management. A decade of mismanaging the energy transition by the previous federal government has left the Australian public in a dire situation. The previous energy minister, Angus Taylor, pilloried the South Australian and other state governments for their push to renewables. Now, they have the cheapest electricity in the nation. The rest of Australia is in an energy crisis according to the National Electricity Market website.

Power generation providers have found themselves without federal policy direction and so have not invested as much in renewables and have not maintained their fossil-fueled powered assets. Breakdowns and outages are common.

Add to this the skyrocketing demand and costs for fossil fuels and you have a perfect ice storm. Australia is one of the largest exporters of gas. But, unless forced to (as they do in Western Australia), exporters leave very little for the domestic market. The Russian war and an Australian cold snap have left many of the poorest citizens in an energy trap.

Thank goodness the new federal (Labor) government has the courage and foresight to make sweeping changes. 

According to the brisbane times, “Federal and state energy ministers held crisis talks in Sydney on Wednesday… [They] have signed off on sweeping reforms to create a national transition plan to phase out fossil fuels, fund projects to bolster the electricity grid through all weather conditions, and empower the market operator to hold emergency stores of natural gas, to respond to the surge in coal, gas and electricity prices gripping households and industry along the eastern seaboard.”

“Finally, we appear to be having an adult conversation about the serious and pressing issue of energy transition,” Environment Victoria chief executive Jono La Nauze said.

Hopefully there will now be a concerted effort to coordinate and increase the number of solar, wind, and battery projects that are needed for Australians to survive a colder than normal winter (it was 8 degrees on my back deck in Brisbane, Queensland, this morning — significantly lower than I have ever experienced here) and what is likely to be a hot summer (along with floods and bushfires). Here is a large one under construction that we saw on our recent trip to the Gladstone EV Expo:

Australia's Energy Crisis

Solar farm at Woolooga, Queensland — between Gympie and Biggenden.


 


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