You may have heard gas being talked about a lot recently. That’s because the Federal Government has promoted the idea of a ‘gas-led recovery’ to lead us out of the economic downturn.
But experts and analysts say the high cost of producing Australian gas means it just doesn’t make sense as an option for economic stimulus. On top of this, new data has revealed that renewables are already outshining gas by a long shot.
“Climate Council analysis of publicly available data on OpenNEM has revealed that 2020 was a record year for renewables and a shocker for gas,” said Climate Council researcher Tim Baxter.
According to the data, gas generation in Australia’s largest electricity grid fell by 19 percent in 2020 while solar and wind had a record year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gas power stations in New South Wales had a whopping 46 percent drop in generation to just 1.6 percent. Victoria saw an even bigger 52 percent decline.
|State||Renewable energy generation in 2020||Gas power generation in 2020|
|National Electricity Market||26.4%||7.5%|
|Western Australia (South West Interconnected System only)||26.3%||37.2%|
|New South Wales||19.3%||1.6%|
OpenNEM is an open source platform that displays electricity generation data. You can view the data here.
What’s more, data from this summer (2020/21) reveals renewables provided six times more power than gas, with gas generation falling almost 40 percent compared to last summer.
“Renewables are out-competing gas power stations, even in the hottest months when electricity demand is usually highest,” said Mr Baxter.
- Nationally, gas power stations provided just 5 percent of the electricity in the National Electricity Market (NEM) over summer. This is part of a long-term trend with gas generation declining for six out of the last seven summers. Renewables continued to outcompete gas, increasing by about a fifth and providing 30% of the NEM’s power needs.
- In Victoria, renewables provided 57 times more power than gas over the summer, with gas providing less than one percent of electricity.
- In New South Wales, renewables provided 31 times more power than gas over the summer, with gas providing less than one percent of electricity. Gas generation has declined for the last eight summers in a row in the state.
- South Australia> saw gas generation fall to its lowest level in 16 years over summer. The state had Australia’s cheapest wholesale electricity prices over summer thanks to renewable energy providing over 70 percent of its power.
|State||Renewable energy generation in summer 2020-21||Gas power generation in summer 2020-21|
|National Electricity Market||30%||4.9%|
|New South Wales||26.1%||0.9%|
|Western Australia (South West Interconnected System only)||26.9%||36.5%|
OpenNEM is an open source platform that displays electricity generation data. This data covers the period from 1 December 2020 to 28 February 2021. You can view the data here.
Increases in electricity prices in recent years have occurred specifically because of increased gas extraction. This is the outcome of complex contracting dynamics with our largest export partners that have seen us paying more for Australian gas than our export partners overseas. Renewable energy, on the other hand, is the lowest cost form of new electricity generation and is still coming down in price each year.
“Gas is a polluting and expensive fossil fuel that’s on the way out and has no role to play in our economic recovery. It’s driving up household power prices, and prices for our manufacturing industries, putting the sector at risk,” said Mr Baxter.
“As the sunniest and one of the windiest places on the planet, Australia should be cashing-in on its renewable advantage, and in doing so, rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win-win,” he said.
Expanding gas supply will fix none of the problems that the Federal Government claims it will. The real solution: a rapid transition to renewables, leaving all fossil fuels in the ground. And the proof is in the pudding.
More information on gas: