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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 990 asked in the Legislative Council on 17 October 2018 by Hon Tim Clifford

Minister responding: Hon B.S. Wyatt
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 17 October 2018

RENEWABLE ENERGY POLICY

990. Hon TIM CLIFFORD to the minister representing the Minister for Energy:

I refer to the Climate Council's report ''Powering Progress: States Renewable Energy Race'', which shows WA trailing the rest of the nation in renewable energy generation.

(1) When will the government outline its policy to increase renewable energy generation?

(2) As the leaders of the only state without a renewable energy and/or net zero emissions target, why will the government not commit to a renewable energy target?

(3) Is the government alarmed that nearly all other states are outperforming WA in renewable energy regeneration; and, if not, why not?

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1) The McGowan government's policy to support the smooth transition to more sustainable and affordable energy, including greater use of renewable energy, was clear in its pre-election policy platform and can be seen in the government's actions. To give just a few examples, the government is supporting Synergy and its joint venture partners to develop the Warradarge wind farm and the expansion of the Greenough River solar farm; the Wave Energy Research Centre and Carnegie's wave energy project in Albany; the development of the state's lithium and new battery materials industry; the development of a new renewable hydrogen industry; and a virtual power plant trial in the goldfields. Renewable energy already plays an increasingly important role in our power supply. In fact, over a quarter of Western Australian households have installed a rooftop photovoltaic system. When counted together, rooftop solar photovoltaic is now the single largest generator in the south west interconnected system, providing some 928 megawatts of solar capacity according to the latest estimates.

(2) The McGowan government recognises that Australia has made international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 per cent from 2005 levels. Western Australia will need to play its part in helping to meet these international commitments. The energy sector not only is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, but also offers some of the lowest cost abatement opportunities. The legislated national renewable energy target requirements remain in place. Despite the commonwealth government's recent decision to abandon the national energy guarantee, the McGowan government considers that a national approach remains the most efficient and effective way to deliver on Australia's international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including through the increased participation of renewables in the electricity market.

(3) No. It is worth noting that the emissions intensity of electricity generation in Western Australia is substantially lower than in Australia as a whole, or in the national electricity market, due to Western Australia using a greater proportion of natural gas and a lesser proportion of coal for electricity generation. For example, figures provided by the Public Utilities Office, based on a variety of national data sources and estimates, show that in 2016 emissions intensity in the south west integrated system was estimated to be approximately 0.64 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions against an emissions intensity of the national electricity market of approximately 0.87 tonnes of CO2e.

The McGowan government has commissioned modelling to examine how the mix of electricity generation facilities in the south west interconnected system is likely to change over the next 20 years. This will help the government make informed decisions to enable timely and efficient investment in new generation capacity and assist the transition to cleaner electricity, while also maintaining system security and reliability. The McGowan government is consulting with industry to implement several important reform initiatives that will modernise the structure and design of the energy market to deliver cleaner, more affordable electricity to all customers. The principal reform in this respect is the move to constrained access for the Western Power grid, which will make it much easier and less costly for large-scale renewable generation projects to get off the ground. Proposed changes to the wholesale electricity market arrangements will also allow increased opportunities for participation by renewables and other emerging technologies such as battery storage to contribute to a more secure, reliable and cost-effective electricity system.

The PRESIDENT: A reasonably concise question but a not so concise answer.