A key feature of the 2017-18 Budget is the Australian Government’s energy security plan to help ensure all Australian households and businesses have access to reliable and affordable energy.
This Budget provides funding for practical actions to support infrastructure needed to deliver reliable base load power while supporting the innovation and development of new and more affordable energy into the future.
Towards a new energy future
Australia’s energy system is undergoing significant change. Consumers want greater choice and control over their energy use to mitigate their exposure to rising electricity prices. Australia’s coal‑fired generation fleet is ageing. Together these changes will give us an opportunity to embrace new technologies including state of the art gas generators, solar and wind energy, and battery storage technology.
The government is investing in new generation and energy storage capacity to support a more modern and, dynamic electricity market.
Increasing Australia’s energy storage capacity will be an important element of the government’s energy security plan. We need to be able to store energy from the sun and wind to successfully integrate more renewables into our electricity system.
The government is investigating the use of pumped hydro technology across Australia. This technology is widely used around the world where it provides 99% of grid-connected electricity storage.
The government has begun discussions with New South Wales and Victorian governments to acquire a larger share, or outright ownership, of Snowy Hydro to facilitate the effective and efficient expansion of Snowy Hydro 2.0.
The government is also assess options in Tasmania for new pumped hydro energy storage schemes and expand existing hydro power stations. This would boost Hydro Tasmania’s energy output and store additional energy for the National Electricity Market.
The government is also supporting the development of pumped hydro capacity in South Australia and northern Queensland.
Energy Use Data Model
The government is investing $13.4 million to develop an Energy use Data Model that will improve energy forecasting and planning for the future. This project, managed by the CSIRO, will deliver better planning and management of our electricity infrastructure, and boost the resilience and responsiveness of the energy market to consumer demand.
The government is making up to $110 million available for a new concentrated solar thermal plant in Port August, South Australia. This investment could supplement funding available through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), if required. Solar thermal power plants collect and concentrate sunlight to produce high temperatures needed to generate electricity.
At the same time, the government is bolstering scrutiny of the energy market with funding provided to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to ensure a fair deal for consumers.
- The industry watchdog, the ACCC, has been provided an additional $7.9 million to investigate recent electricity price rises and whether market competition is delivering the best outcomes for consumers.
- The ACCC has also been tasked with conducting a wide-ranging inquiry into the gas market, and has been provided an additional $6.6 million to report regularly on gas pricing over the next three years.
- The government is providing $7.95 million of additional funding to the AER, to ensure the regulator is able to rigorously monitor the energy market and energy providers, ensuring consumer needs are being served effectively and efficiently.
The government’s energy efficiency measures are already helping households save money. Households can get practical advice on how to reduce their energy bills from and shop around for a better energy deal to suit their needs from EnergyMadeEasy.
Natural gas plays a critical role in Australia’s household and business energy mix and supports electricity generation. Ensuring Australia has sufficient gas supply to meet demand is one of the government’s top priorities.
The government has committed around $90 million to address immediate gas shortfalls and secure long term reliable supply including:
- $30.4 million for a Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program to support world class independent scientific analysis of the potential impacts of gas extraction on waterways and aquifers
- $28.7 million to accelerate the development of new onshore gas supply in the Northern Territory and east coast of Australia
- $5.2 million to assess the feasibility of gas pipelines linking the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the east coast
- $19.6 million to accelerate gas market reform, encourage greater competition and place downwards pressure on gas prices. These unprecedented reforms will shape the gas market of the future
- $2 million to boost transparency in the gas market and drive competition
- $0.5 million to examine east coast gas market constraints impacting on gas supply in the east coast of Australia
These reforms will be supported by the ACCC inquiry into prices, transport, supply and demand for wholesale gas in Australia.
Environment and Energy Portfolio Budget Statements 2017-18 Australian Government