Angus Taylor – Minister For Lowering Electricity Prices *And* Emissions

Angus Taylor - Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction

Image: Angus Taylor via Facebook

Angus Taylor, the “Minister for Lowering Electricity Prices” is now also the minister for getting emissions down, or doing stuff that appears to achieve that.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced his new ministry yesterday. Angus Taylor was re-appointed Minister for Energy, and has had “Emissions Reduction” tacked on to the title.

Mr. Taylor was first appointed Energy Minister in August last year and seems happy to be continuing in the role and his new responsibility.

“Honoured to be appointed Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction in the Morrison Government,” tweeted Minister Taylor yesterday. ” I look forward to getting on with the job of lowering power prices for Australian families and businesses, and ensuring we stay on track to meet our 2030 emissions reduction target.”

Previously the emissions reductions responsibility was fulfilled by the Environment Minister.

The Australian Government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 26–28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. It has said the country is well on track to meet the target, but has been accused of using an “accounting trick” to get us there.

Minister Taylor will preside over the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, part of the $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package announced in February, which has been labeled Abbott-era Direct Action rebranded.

While emissions from Australia’s electricity sector have been reducing thanks to renewables such as wind power and solar energy, they’ve been increasing in some other areas. Emissions for the year to September 2018 (the last update published) were estimated to be 536 Mt carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e), up 0.9 per cent (4.6 Mt CO2-e) on the previous year. This increase was primarily attributed to increased LNG exports.

Taylor Brandishes Big Stick Over Liddell

A few days prior to his reappointment as Minister for Energy, Mr. Taylor was getting cranky over the situation with emissions-spewing coal-fired clunker Liddell Power Station. SBS reports Minister Taylor said AGL must replace the power station or extend its life beyond the planned shutdown in 2022. It was a little odd as AGL have repeatedly stated that Liddell will be replaced –  with renewables including solar power, demand response, a couple of gas peakers, battery storage and upgrades to Bayswater Power Station.

Perhaps it’s the timing concerning Mr. Taylor, but extending the life of Liddell wouldn’t sit well with his new responsibility.

Small Scale Solar Rebate Safe For Now

As for Minister Taylor’s approach to support for small-scale solar power going forward; as mentioned recently he indicated in October last year the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) will be maintained and not changed. However, the Government will no doubt come under continued pressure from various parties to axe it prematurely.

Price Pushed From Environment Minister Role

On a related note, one of the other changes announced in Prime Minister Morrison’s new ministerial lineup was the removal of Melissa Price as Minister for the Environment. Ms. Price has been replaced with Sussan Ley.

Ms. Price recently came under fire for approving groundwater plans for Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin on April 8, just two days before the May 18 national election was officially announced. Here’s the ABC’s analysis of the events leading up to the approval.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Geoff Miell says

    Michael,
    You say:

    “It was a little odd as AGL have repeatedly stated that Liddell will be replaced – with renewables including solar power, demand response, a couple of gas peakers, battery storage and upgrades to Bayswater Power Station.”

    Michael, please correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I’m aware, AGL has still not committed to ALL the stages proposed to replace Liddell.

    AGL has outlined a proposed 3-stage plan, outlined here:
    https://theconversation.com/agls-plan-to-replace-liddell-is-cheaper-and-cleaner-than-keeping-it-open-94651

    However, AGL has not yet committed to ALL the stages. The Newcastle Herald article, dated 4 Dec 2018, includes:

    “The company has announced a $1.4 billion three-stage plan to replace electricity lost when Liddell is closed, but is yet to commit to all stages of its replacement, which includes new solar, wind, batteries and gas-fired generation.”
    See also: https://www.theherald.com.au/story/5790609/muswellbrook-council-a-key-player-in-agls-post-liddell-power-plans/

    David Leitch’s comments on Mar 19 include:

    “It can be argued that the market left to its own devices will produce new supply as required, and I agree with this.

    However, I’m not convinced that the market will produce the new supply in as timely a fashion or at better prices.”
    See: https://reneweconomy.com.au/will-the-nsw-election-deliver-a-change-in-electricity-policy-48376/

    Governments need to have an effective energy policy now (that’s also compatible with the Paris Climate Agreement), based on compelling evidence/data – NOT ill-informed ideology. Otherwise, Australia is at risk of more expensive energy (with perhaps blackouts during extreme situations) beyond the closure of Liddell (and other ageing Australian coal-fired plants).

  2. Ray Meeuwisse says

    Hi guys, I have nothing against Angus Taylor, he is an all round good bloke. But the truth is, that come July 1st, there will be general Australian wide power price rise, so, so much for cheaper power prices.

  3. Geoff Miell says

    Michael,
    You say:

    “Angus Taylor, the “Minister for Lowering Electricity Prices” is now also the minister for getting emissions down, or doing stuff that appears to achieve that.”

    Broadcast yesterday on Radio 2GB (and other syndicated radio stations) the newly sworn-in Australian Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor MP, told broadcaster Ray Hadley:

    “The past attempts to get extensions to this coal mine and other adjacent coal mines have been thwarted by activists who don’t want coal mines being built.”

    “I’m going to focus on working with state governments to get these planning approvals through faster.”

    “We can’t get in the way, Ray, of getting new coal resources available for power stations, or for exports, for that matter.”
    Hear podcast at: https://www.2gb.com/energy-minister-fighting-to-keep-coal-fired-powered-stations-going/

    Angus Taylor says he is focused on keeping NSW’s Mt Piper, and ageing Liddell and Vales Point B Power Stations running. I’m just wondering whether Minister Taylor has forgotten/ignored that he is now also responsible for “Emissions Reduction”.

    The issue with Mt Piper P/S concerns coal supply. Nearby Springvale underground coal mine (with a development consent to extract up to 5.5 Mt/y ROM to 2028, but could be exhausted as soon as 2024) has been the sole supplier of thermal coal to Mt Piper P/S, but is currently experiencing a substantial reduction in production due to geological factors, to the extent that Mt Piper P/S is now reportedly generating 42% less power than the same time last year.

    Some coal is now being hauled by road from Clarence Colliery to Mt Piper P/S, but is restricted to a maximum 0.1 Mt/y westward. Approval is currently being sought to increase this limit restriction.
    See: https://www.lithgowmercury.com.au/story/6190356/clarence-coal-mine-applies-to-double-the-coal-hauled-off-site-by-road/

    Additionally, EnergyAustralia has recently gained approval for the Western Rail Coal Unloader (on 23 Jan 2019) to enable alternate sourcing of thermal coal supplies from other than just Springvale mine, for long-term reliable supply to Mt Piper P/S.
    See: https://www.energyaustralia.com.au/sites/default/files/2019-03/Mt%20Piper%20Rail%20Unloader%20Mod1-%20Notice%20of%20Modification.pdf

    With AGL continuing to state that Liddell P/S will close in 2022 (<4 years away) then the Mt Piper P/S coal supply issue needs to be resolved soon. Otherwise, unless adequate 'dispatchable' alternative electricity generating capacity is made available, then there will be an increasing risk to the NEM of blackouts and/or forced 'load-shedding' in the early 2020s (or perhaps sooner?).

    Evidence I see indicates these issues have been known about (and warnings given) for more than a decade, and a succession of state and federal governments have continued to ignore them. Now the consequences of this neglect of competent long-term energy planning (and reliance on 'market-driven' ideology) are now beginning to manifest.

  4. Des Scahill says

    In other recent news, the QLD State Government has approved the Adani environmental plan relating to the Black-throated Finches.

    To quote Bob Brown from the Greens Party: “Adani’s daft proposal for offsets is to trap the mine-site finches and move them to a site where they have not naturally survived” .

    See: https://www.4ro.com.au/news/local-news/120569-breaking-state-approves-adani-finch-management-plan

    The only other Adani approval requirement outstanding now, relates to the ‘Groundwater Management Plan’, which has to be considered by June 13th.

    I’m also wondering ‘just who’ is going to actually front up with the needed money for the refurbishing of the coal power stations and the additional new mine developments, and if the money IS forthcoming who will end up owning them and will ‘subsidies’ be required.

    Victoria, NSW and QLD for quite some years have relied on stamp duty revenues arising from real estate transactions – but that’s showing clear signs of drying up.

    There is also the likelihood of further ‘crisis’ funding requirements by the agricultural sector being needed next summer. And as well, both State and Federal governments are accelerating spending on ‘infrastructure’ type items such as roads, schools, bridges, and the like to stimulate the economy to keep unemployment levels down.

    • Geoff Miell says

      Des Scahill,
      You say:

      “I’m also wondering ‘just who’ is going to actually front up with the needed money for the refurbishing of the coal power stations and the additional new mine developments, and if the money IS forthcoming who will end up owning them and will ‘subsidies’ be required.”

      In the case of Vales Point B P/S it looks like some taxpayers’ money may possibly be subsidizing refurbishments.
      See: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-02/coal-fired-power-station-lobbied-environment-minister-foi-reveal/10960544

      AGL has repeatedly stated it will close Liddell in 2022. Yet Minister Angus Taylor said on Friday (May 31) to Ray Hadley:

      “…keeping Liddell in the market. That is the first priority, because that puts the biggest downward pressure on prices, and of course shores up reliability.”

      Minister Taylor also referred to the federal government introducing “big stick” legislation to compel energy companies to comply with government demands. It will be interesting to see how the Senate views this legislation.
      See also: https://reneweconomy.com.au/taylor-waves-big-stick-again-but-energy-industry-fears-same-old-mistakes-20384/

      As for maintaining adequate coal supplies to Mt Piper P/S long-term, IMO the only reliable solution rests with the Western Rail Coal Unloader (approved in Jan 2019) being built quickly to enable coal to be sourced from other than Springvale mine.

      The Lithgow LGA currently has only three producing coal mines:

      Airly (NNW of Lithgow):
      • extension development consent approved on 15 Dec 2016 for 20 years;
      • continued underground bord and pillar operations;
      • for production up to 1.8 Mt/y ROM from the Lithgow Seam in any calendar year, 24 hours x 7 days;
      • all coal product must be transported from site by rail, averaging no more than 2 laden trains per day over any calendar year, and no more than 5 laden trains to leave the site on any day.

      Clarence (E of Lithgow):
      • development consent expires on 31 Dec 2026 (<8 years away);
      • underground operations;
      • for production up to 3 Mt/y ROM in any calendar year, 24 hours x 7 days;
      • transport from site by rail, or for transport up to 0.2 Mt/y of coal by road per calendar year, with a maximum 0.1 Mt/y per calendar year transported to the west, via the Darling Causeway and Great Western Highway haulage route;
      • haulage of coal to the west between 7am to 10pm Mon – Sat, & 8am to 10pm on Sun and p/h.

      Springvale (NW of Lithgow):
      • development consent expires on 31 Dec 2028 (<10 years away);
      • underground retreating longwall operations;
      • for production up to 5.5 Mt/y ROM in any calendar year, 24 hours x 7 days;
      • an increased production rate approved (from 4.5 to 5.5 Mt/y) may exhaust remaining coal reserves by 2024 (if Springvale resolves production issues promptly);
      • employment up to 450 full-time-equivalent (FTE, incl. contractors);
      • transport from site by overland conveyor to Mt Piper P/S, or to rail loader at the adjacent Western Coal Services site, or up to 50 kt/y by road (incl. waste disposal).

      Angus Place Colliery (underground, adjacent to and N of Springvale) was ‘mothballed’ in Mar 2015. Its 4 Mt/y development consent expires in Aug 2024. It has a private haulage road to Mt Piper P/S and has supplied coal to there in the past. Whether Angus Place mine reopens and/or seeks and gains an extension beyond 2024 and has adequate coal supplies to keep Mt Piper going to its expected end of operational life in 2042 is speculative.

      Invincible Colliery Southern Extension open cut (N of Angus Place) gained approval on 2 Feb 2018 for 2.7 Mt ROM total extraction (1.2 Mt/y max rate) for 8 years. The proponent promised up to 35 FTE jobs would be created & most of the coal would be suitable for Mt Piper P/S. To date, this mine has not begun production.

      Then there’s EnergyAustralia’s own Pine Dale open cut mine, currently inactive.

      There are other coal mines in the Lithgow LGA, either with lapsed development consents, or 'mothballed'.

      And there are indications that NSW's thermal coal export market appears to be collapsing.
      See: http://ieefa.org/ieefa-australia-nsws-transition-plan-for-a-declining-coal-market-is-still-missing/

      But compelling evidence indicates humanity should be exiting coal.
      See: http://www.climatecodered.org/2019/05/can-we-think-in-new-ways-about.html

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