19 December 2011Archived News
Draft Energy White Paper
The Draft Energy White Paper was released by Resources Minister Martin Ferguson on 15 December. The document was prepared in a very different environment compared to that which existed in 2004, when the last Energy White Paper was released. Australia’s annual energy exports have risen from $24 billion to around $69 billion.
The Draft White Paper recognises that the need for new investment and rising costs of production will drive up energy costs and energy policy must be mindful of the impact that this will have on consumers, both residential and commercial. This large scale investment is needed to meet the growing demand for energy, particularly peak electricity demand, while at the same time seeking to achieve reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy productivity. This must be done in a way that supports continued national competitiveness and economic growth.
With the introduction of a carbon price as well as complementary measures to address non‐market barriers, the uptake of energy efficiency is expected to rise. Noting that industry and commercial operations account for the vast majority of Australia's total energy use, the White Paper acknowledges that the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program has made significant gains in industrial energy efficiency outcomes.
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The Draft White Paper flagged a range of critical reform issues that need to be addressed:
privatising government owned energy assets;
fully deregulating retail energy prices where effective competition exists;
implementing an improved energy productivity framework to efficiently reduce peak‐demand growth;
completing the transition to truly national energy markets; and
reviewing the current set of non-complementary policy interventions from all levels of government that were made in the absence of a carbon price.
Several other key issues were also highlighted such as developing the necessary skills base to meet Australia's future energy needs and export opportunities, promoting research into technology to transform the energy sector and better understanding Australia's energy resource base.