Hugh Saddler on Australia’s energy crisis

February 23, 2017

As politicians debate the causes of South Australia’s power failures, separating fact from rhetoric has become difficult. In this episode of The Conversation’s politics podcast, Michelle Grattan interviews energy expert Hugh Saddler.

Dr Saddler explains the complex mix of factors behind the power failures in South Australia and the stresses on the electricity systems elsewhere, and canvases what can be done to fix the problems.

With the government attempting to reinvigorate enthusiasm for coal, Saddler doesn’t believe the idea of subsidising the development of “clean coal” power stations will fly.

“There’s so many parties who would be involved in that sort of investment saying there’s no way they would invest in such a type of power station.

"One factor is that they have a long life. … That type of power station would take a very long time to build. Then it will have a long life and under that sort of life they would still be operating in 2050 when many countries have said we’ve got to be [at] zero emissions.”

A review into energy security by Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel is still underway. But the government has already ruled out establishing an emissions intensity scheme.

“In my opinion an emissions intensity scheme is just one of a number of different mechanisms which probably should be used. … I would suspect the sort of process that might go through is the Finkel report will come down with a whole suite of recommendations,” Saddler says.


Music credit: “Equestrian”, by Anitek on the Free Music Archive

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