Renewables up, gas down: Climate Council

Gina Rushton
(Australian Associated Press)


NSW has recorded its bigger ever jump in renewable energy generation as gas generation falls to its lowest level in two decades, new analysis by the Climate Council has shown.

The publication of the analysis coincides with the state government’s release of its Future of Gas statement on Wednesday which outlines plans for the NSW gas industry.

The climate change communications non-profit used OpenNEM, an open-source independent platform that displays electricity generation data, to analyse the National Electricity Market.

It found gas generation fell in every state and gas provided six per cent of the east coast’s power, despite little change in electricity demand.

Between the first half of 2020 and the first half of 2021, gas provided just 1.3 per cent of power in NSW, dropping almost a quarter on the previous year.

The government’s four-point “action plan” commits to making sure regional industries are supported by access to gas through a diverse energy mix and notes the government has “significantly reduced” the land available for gas exploration, especially in the state’s north-west.

But farmers in the state’s northwest say some of the most productive farmland will still be available to be exploited by energy companies for coal seam gas.

Mullaley farmer Margaret Fleck said farmers were already fighting difficult conditions, and would now have to contend with industrial gas fields.

“With this gas strategy, (deputy premier) John Barilaro has condemned our communities to having to keep on fighting, not just for ourselves, but to safeguard water, soils and the social fabric of rural communities for the next generation,” she said.

Energy expert and Climate Council spokeswoman Madeline Taylor said the Future of Gas statement highlighted that the commercial viability of gas required “government interference”.

“Gas is expensive, polluting, and diminishing in importance and relevance to the National Electricity Market as states and territories rapidly roll-out large-scale renewable energy and storage,” Dr Taylor said.

For the first six months of this year, four of the state’s largest gas power stations operated at less than 15 per cent of capacity.

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