A report to government on securing enough baseload power for future electricity needs is said to warn of a looming gap in the nation’s supplies as coal-fired stations shut down.
The Australian Energy Market Operator report cites the risk of a major shortfall with the potential to drive up household electricity bills, according to The Australian.
The problem is likely to worsen over the next decade as coal-fired stations close and the eastern states lose huge reserves of energy that can be supplied regardless of weather conditions or time of day.
The newspaper says the warning comes as fewer Australians are prepared to pay more for renewable power, with a Newspoll indicating an increase from 45 per cent to 49 per cent in the number of people who say they will reject a premium.
Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is set to publicly release the AEMO report this week after receiving the document on Monday.
It was commissioned to inform the government’s thinking on a clean energy target and other long-term policies to help boost investment in the power industry.
A review by chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel recommended a clean energy target at the heart of any long-term policy, to give certainty to investors in power generation while meeting Australia’s emissions targets.
Any clean energy target is not expected to start until 2020, when the existing renewable energy target is set to end.
Malcolm Turnbull has shown strong interest in battery and pumped hydro storage systems, to make renewable energy more reliable and flexible enough to meet changes in demand.
But he’s also facing pressure within the coalition and the resources sector to find ways to keep coal-fired power stations running for longer or invest in new plants using cutting-edge technology to reduce emissions.
The prime minister is aiming to finalise the policy by the end of the year.
Energy policy will be a key issue at Minerals Week starting in Canberra on Tuesday evening.
Mr Turnbull will address a dinner on Wednesday night.