Australia's opposition Labor party would ramp up investment in electricity networks to boost investment in renewables and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030, the party's Shadow Minister for Climate Change Chris Bowen said Dec. 6.
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Bowen was detailing the party's new Power Australia Plan ahead of expected federal elections in May 2022, positioning Labor as the party of progressive climate action versus that of the incumbent Liberal government of Scott Morrison.
"We put to the Australian people an ambitious but achievable policy," said Bowen, addressing the National Press Club of Australia.
The shadow minister said a 43% cut in GHG emissions on 2005 levels by 2030 would put Australia on course with the UN Paris Agreement's net zero target by 2050 and was non-negotiable in the event of a coalition with the Green party, which has called for a 75% cut in GHG emissions by 2030.
If Labor formed a government in 2022 it would notify the United Nations of a 43% emission cut target in a revised Nationally Determined Contribution, cutting emissions by 440 million mt between 2023-2030 and spurring A$24 billion ($17 billion) in public investment in renewables to create over 600,000 jobs, Bowen said.
"We have to generate more electricity, we have to transmit it better and we have to store much of it," he said.
Labor would develop a Rewiring the Nation Corporation to invest A$20 billion on modernizing electricity networks, improving connection of new renewable capacity.
"This will support new Renewable Energy Zone development, with renewable energy capacity projected to grow to 26 GW by 2030, or 82% of all National Electricity Market generation, up from 68% under the Reference Case," a document on the plan's economic impact said.
Increased renewables would result in 180 million mt CO2 of abatement between 2023-30, "with no impact on scheduled generator retirements," it said.
On this point Bowen said Labor would not propose unscheduled closures of coal power plants, nor tamper with coal's position in the power mix, nor with the country's coal exports.
Coal accounted for 54% of Australia's power mix in 2020, renewables 24%, according to government data.
Although new HV power lines took several years to develop, access to low-cost renewables under Labor's Rewiring the Nation policy was forecast to result in an 18% (A$11/MWh) reduction in wholesale power prices by 2025 from today's levels of A$62 MWh, and a 26% (A$16/MWh) reduction by 2030.
AUSTRALIAN ELECTRICITY GENERATION (TWh)
Source: Australian Department of Industry, Science Energy and Resources
Modest hydrogen boost
Under the National Reconstruction Fund, meanwhile, some A$3 billion would be allocated to new energy industries, including electrolysis for hydrogen production and fuel switching technologies, projected to save five million mt/yr CO2 by 2030.
"While hydrogen is not the centerpiece, Labor's policy does put down some solid policy markers relating to steel manufacturing, use of electrolyzers and fuel switching, while leaving room for more announcements," Australian Hydrogen Council CEO Fiona Simon told S&P Global Platts.
"For example, we would welcome more detail on how Labor would protect Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed Industries as the economy transitions," Simon said.
S&P Global Platts assessed New South Wales hydrogen produced via Alkaline Electrolysis, including capex, at A$4.48/kg Dec. 3, up 2.75% since Nov. 3.
New South Wales hydrogen produced via coal gasification with CCS including capex was assessed at A$3.69/kg, down 8.44% since Nov. 3.