An energy expert says there’s a lot of room for improvement in the way energy companies operate and the way consumers are able to access the energy they need.
The ABC’s The Drum has sought comments from the sector on its own measures to reduce emissions and the best ways to do so.
The panel includes the chief executive of Australian Gas and Energy Consumer Group, Dr Kevin McCauley, and energy expert Dr Nick Kavner.
The group says a better way to cut greenhouse gas emissions would be to invest in new generation facilities that deliver less energy than currently exists.
“We can do a lot more with less energy, so that’s the real challenge,” Mr McCauly said.
The report comes on the same day the Federal Government released its climate change strategy, which recommends the state’s energy sector should be the “first to respond”.
Mr McCausley says while there are a number of steps that can be taken to cut emissions, the best way to do that is through improved technology and better technology integration.
“There are plenty of technologies out there that can reduce emissions, and they’re all really good, but the reality is that we need to find ways of combining the different technologies and the different processes and technologies to really reduce the emissions,” he said.
“So the fact that there are lots of ways to reduce the emission, the fact we need a better understanding of how to achieve that, then we can do the right things.”
Mr Kavners report recommends a number changes to the energy sector including an end to the “dirty” gas business model and a change to the gas market rules to better align with the national carbon price.
The key recommendations are: • Make sure customers have access to reliable, low-carbon energy to ensure that we can meet our energy needs, Mr Kovner said.
• Invest in alternative energy technologies, such as renewables and the gas grid, to support local communities.
• Encourage innovation and new energy technologies to help meet our growing energy needs.
The recommendations are expected to be discussed at the national energy policy conference in Canberra next month.
Mr McCaulley said he was “surprised” by the government’s proposal to cap emissions and that the industry was “trying to be very clear that they are not advocating the removal of anything”.
“They’re just suggesting that we should look at different technologies, different types of energy, different energy efficiency, different forms of energy,” he told The Drum.
“They have no interest in the emissions reductions that we’re proposing, and it’s a very, very serious approach.”
Mr McCauer said that while he did not believe a cap on emissions would help the industry, it was a step in the right direction.
“What they are trying to do is say ‘look, this is the technology, this industry can look at it and figure out how to make it better, how to put it in a better environment, how do we make it sustainable,'” he said, adding that the “good thing” is that it is not a “soft cap”.
“The bad thing is that this is not the best technology that will be the cheapest to use.
It’s a combination of all of the technologies that we are investing in,” he explained.
“The way we think about this is, it’s not about whether or not we can achieve the target.
It is about the ability to get to that target.”
Mr Kaveling said that with the Government’s “green energy” agenda, energy companies were “talking a big game”.
“We’re not going to do this without an emissions reduction target, but that doesn’t mean we are not going on with our business,” he added.
“If you want to be a good energy company, you’ve got to make sure you can make money.”
The Australian Energy Market Operator is the only publicly-listed energy company in Australia.
It provides a market for the wholesale supply of electricity.
The regulator is responsible for regulating the electricity sector.
The AEMO says the regulator “provides regulatory oversight and enforcement to ensure the market is functioning effectively”.
It says “compliance is the primary responsibility of the AEMI”, and that “every effort is made to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations.”
The AECO is Australia’s main energy regulator.