New high-efficiency low-emission (HELE) coal-fired power plants have a role in the energy mix and the government is prepared to intervene in the market, Josh Frydenberg has said.
The energy and environment minister told Sky News on Sunday that new coal plants “need to be considered” alongside other sources of baseload power, and the government could intervene if the market failed to deliver the “best possible outcomes” in the electricity market.
The comments leave open the possibility of government intervention in favour of coal, despite Frydenberg saying in July that the government would only support new coal power plants “if the market supports that”.
Asked about the Finkel’s review’s recommendation for a clean energy target, Frydenberg said there was no “need to rush this decision”, because a CET would not come into force until 2020.
In June the Finkel review called for a CET as a means to lower energy prices and achieve an emissions reduction target of 28% on 2005 levels by 2030 in the electricity sector.
The government has said it is “too early” to say if it will adopt the policy, although Malcolm Turnbull has left open the option of considering an alternative.
On Sunday Frydenberg said the purpose of the CET was “to try to integrate climate and energy policy and to provide a level of investment certainty for generation investments that have a 20, 30, or 40-year lifespan”.
He said a CET was “a live issue and a live option for the Coalition”, but it would first receive a report back from the Australian Energy Market Operator in a few weeks’ time about the amount of dispatchable, baseload power needed in the system.
Asked if coal would play a role in generation, the energy and environment minister replied: “Certainly existing and new coal does have a role to play in our energy mix.”
“Low emissions high efficiency [HELE] coal fire power stations … do have a role to play in the energy mix going forward.”
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