Australian Government Releases Draft Energy White Paper

The Australian Government released its draft Energy White Paper a short time ago – a publication for public consultation that sets out a series of proposed Commonwealth Government priorities to address the challenges faced by Australia’s energy sector. 
According to Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, Australia will require a huge cash injection for energy in the next 20 years and the White Paper is a part of delivering the stable framework required to build confidence in investors.
“Over the next two decades, Australia will require massive investment in the gas and electricity sectors – around $240 billion in generation, transmission and distribution,” said Minister Ferguson.
The Minister also used today’s launch to announce the Government will no longer proceed with the introduction of emissions standards or Carbon Capture and Storage Ready requirements for new coal fired power stations.
“With the legislation of a carbon price, the Government has a position that it is best to let the market determine the most efficient investment outcomes within the energy market, carbon price and Renewable Energy Target framework,” Minister Ferguson said. 
Key actions outlined in the Energy White Paper include:
– Expediting of clean energy programs,, including establishing the Australian Renewable Energy Agency by July 2012 and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from 2013–14, and continuing to progress controversial carbon capture and storage initiatives
– Implementation of a four-yearly strategic energy policy review process.
– The Renewable Energy Target scheme will be reviewed in the second half of 2012 and every two years after that.
– “Harmonise” state and territory–based feed-in tariff schemes for small scale generation, such as home solar power systems and to “ensure that the schemes do not impose an unjustifiable burden on electricity consumers”.
–  Biennial publication from 2014 of the Australian Energy Resource Assessment and the Australian Energy Technology Assessment.
– Expansion of the scope of the Australian Energy Technology Assessment to specifically cover liquid fuel technologies.
–  Continue to seek collaboration opportunities with business and the research community. 
– Continuance of engagement in international processes and partnerships to promote clean energy technology development and deployment. 
– Working with state and territory governments to identify the need for nationally consistent and supportive regulatory arrangements for new clean energy technologies.
The Department will now commence a period of consultation on the draft Energy White Paper, including information sessions to be held in each state and territory capital city. Written submissions are invited, with a cutoff date 16 March 2012.
The Government states it intends to release the final Energy White Paper around the middle of 2012.