New power generation projects are on the table, but the federal government and opposition are divided on an energy source.
As Opposition Leader Bill Shorten prepares to announce Labor’s detailed energy plan on Thursday, he says renewable energy makes economic sense.
“A lot of the coal power stations are coming to the end of their technical life, so we’re going to need to replace generation,” he told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
“We need to replace generation with the cheapest and most efficient forms of new energy – that’s renewable energy.”
The technology sector, industry and scientists support renewable energy, he added.
His view is at odds with that of Energy Minister Angus Taylor, who is leaving the door open to a new coal project when he announces a short list of potential projects to receive government funding early next year.
“The critical point here is we need more supply of 24/7 power in the system as quickly as possible,” Mr Taylor told Sky News.
The government has also been approached to back expanded hydro, solar and gas projects.
Mr Taylor was coy on his thoughts towards Labor looking to the coalition’s abandoned National Energy Guarantee for their own policy, which sought to link reliability and emissions targets while pushing down prices.
“I’m very confident my colleagues are supportive of the policies we have,” Mr Taylor said.
“I’m bagging the targets.
“The target drives everything, if you pick a 45 per cent emissions reduction target you’ve got to figure out which part of the economy you’re slashing.”
The NEG was designed to bring down energy bills by about $550 a year and require retailers to source electricity that met reliability and emissions reduction targets.
Labor’s existing energy policy centres on a 45 per cent emissions reduction target and 50 per cent renewable energy project by 2030.
Coal and gas would therefore continue to play a part but renewables must increase and emissions should be addressed, Mr Shorten says.
“How does the prime minister and treasurer argue against a National Energy Guarantee when for a year they were spruiking it as the best thing since sliced bread,” he said.
Labor has flagged sector-specific emissions reduction targets within their policy, such as within agriculture and housing.
Livestock accounts for 11 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, behind only the energy and transport sectors.
Within emissions from the agriculture sector, livestock account for about 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.