Australia has surrendered its cheap energy advantage

Australia has surrendered its cheap energy advantage, an editorial in The Australian.

Australia has had an energy advantage since coal was discovered soon after European settlement. Cheap and reliable coal and gas-fired energy, not to mention hydro, drove our economic prosperity in the 20th century.

But early this century, as a matter of policy choice, we have given away that advantage. Only eight years ago the climate change review conducted by Ross Garnaut predicted the change. “The current low and stable price of energy has been largely taken for granted by the Australian community,” Professor Garnaut said. “The realities are changing rapidly.” What an understatement. We now face rapidly increasing energy costs, jeopardising investment in a range of industries, and an emerging problem of secure electricity supply that has reached crisis levels in South Australia. …

These are not problems of supply or demand, of scarcity or distance, but of policy. The nation needs to weigh its priorities and take the necessary action. And there seems to be no side of the debate that is happy thus far.

hat-tip Joanne