The Coalition is having yet another go at crafting an energy policy. Faced with the huge economic challenges presented by COVID, the government this week announced its “gas-fired recovery”.
But the policy is already under fire from both environmentalists and coal advocates, and the energy sector warns it could discourage investors.
Part of the announcement was a threat – the government will build a gas generator in the Hunter Valley if the private sector fails to fill the gap in power supply that will be created by the closure of the Liddell coal-fired power plant.
This dramatic form of intervention would seem very much against the Liberal grain.
But Energy Minister Angus Taylor says: “Our focus is on good competitive markets. That’s a Liberal Party philosophy.
"Our belief is in the importance of affordable, reliable energy - we want the private sector to deliver it. That’s their obligation to their customers, we believe. But if they don’t, we will step in.”
Despite the focus on gas, Taylor said renewables would play their role in the future. “I’ve always been enormously enthusiastic about renewables, but I also see that what we need is a mix.
"And when people talk about a single technology as the answer to all our problems, I am sceptical.
"I’m not sceptical of balance and having a range of different technologies…a balance that includes hydro, solar and wind, gas, coal, batteries starting to play a role, particularly over the very short term, to help support, secure, the market.”