The COAG Energy Council review into national energy security led by Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel will help to provide some solid foundations for the important reform of our electricity system, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said while the acrimonious political debate leading into the COAG Energy Council meeting last week was disappointing, the meeting outcomes represent another sensible and measured step in developing a coherent energy strategy that can successfully transition the Australian energy sector.

“The renewable energy industry welcomes the review into energy security to feed into a national reform blueprint, and we are expecting a more fact-based and mature conversation in the weeks ahead,” Mr Thornton said.

“Unfortunately the recent blackout in South Australia caused by a once-in-50-year storm opened up old battlelines about the uptake of renewable energy. Arguing about the respective merits of renewable energy technologies versus fossil fuels is a distraction from a much more important issue – our electricity system is out-dated and is struggling to keep up with a period of rapid change.

“While it has worked very well to date, the energy system was primarily designed to transport electricity from large power plants in regional areas to customers in metropolitan areas. But the mass adoption of solar power systems and smart energy technologies, along with the coming wave of energy storage, means the system we currently have is not fit for purpose.

“Australia has genuine issues that need to be confronted in the way we produce, use and transport energy, and these cannot be accurately reduced to some ideological grudge match where renewable energy faces off against fossil fuels in the headlines.  

“Around 70 per cent of our coal-fired power plants are now at or past their expected retirement date, and renewable energy such as wind and solar power is now the lowest-cost energy technology that can be built right now.

“Combined with our national emissions reduction commitments in the wake of the Paris climate agreement, we need strategic planning to maximise our natural renewable energy advantage and increase the flexibility of our energy system long into the future,” he said.

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.