Finkel review recommends clean energy target

A clean energy target has been recommended as the most effective mechanism to fix the country’s energy crisis, according to the Final Report of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market.

Australia’s chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel presented the report to COAG leaders in Hobart today and unveiled a blueprint to optimise the National Electricity Market as a world-class electricity system that can serve the needs of today and rise to the challenges of tomorrow.

“Our electricity system is entering an era where it must deal with changing priorities and evolving technologies,” Dr Finkel said.

“If the world around us is changing, we have to change with it. More of the same is not an option, we need to aim higher.

“If we adopt a strategic approach, we will have fewer local and regional problems, and can ensure that consumers pay the lowest possible prices over the long-term.

“The blueprint released today presents the essential elements for a strategic plan for our electricity future.

“It is up to federal, state and territory governments to take these recommendations, make decisions, add detail and drive it forward.”

The report uses three pillars to achieve a reliable, secure electricity system with lower emissions.

Under the orderly transition pillar, the Review Panel concluded that a clean energy target is the most effective mechanism to reduce emissions while supporting security and reliability.

Existing large electricity generators will be required to give a three years’ notice of closure, signaling investment opportunities for new generation and give communities time to adjust.

The orderly transition would be underpinned by agreement from Australian, state and territory governments to a national emissions reduction trajectory.

During the transition, security will be achieved through obligations on new generators to provide essential services to maintain voltage and frequency.

Further, new generators will be required to guarantee supply of electricity when needed at a level determined following regional assessments by the market operator.

The second pillar of the blueprint, system planning, recommends a system-wide grid plan to inform network investment decisions and ensure security is preserved in each region.

The third pillar of stronger governance calls for a new Energy Security Board to drive implementation of the blueprint and deliver an annual health check on the state of the electricity system.

“The National Electricity Market is 5000km long, spans five states and one territory and has more than nine million metered customers. It’s essential that we get it right,” Dr Finkel said.

“I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work of the four Review panel members:  Chloe Munro, Karen Moses, Mary O’Kane and Terry Effeney, and the Review taskforce over the eight months of the Review.”

The review drew on an extensive public consultation process, with more than 390 public written submissions received and around 450 attendees at public consultation sessions held in five capital cities in early 2017.

The review was announced on October 7, 2016, after the black system event in South Australia in September.