CANBERRA, AAP – Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor is ready to press go on a gas-fired power station but insists he wants the private sector to do it.
The government is worried power will become unreliable and prices will go up when AGL’s Liddell coal-fired power station closes in 2023.
To deal with the influx of renewable energy Mr Taylor wants a gas-fired power station to fill the gap, and last year gave the private sector until April to announce a project.
With that deadline approaching he says a few proposals are being worked on.
“We’re not going to pre-empt the outcomes of what the private sector is doing,” Mr Taylor told reporters in Newcastle on Monday.
“Our position has been very clear. We will, if necessary, replace the capacity being lost from Liddell.”
The government-owned Snowy Hydro would build the NSW gas project if the private sector does not.
Mr Taylor on Monday toured the former aluminium smelter site in Kurri Kurri where the project would be built.
“We’re ready to go if we have to,” he said.
The proposal has been declared a critical infrastructure project for NSW under its environmental planning laws, meaning it is considered essential for economic, environmental or social reasons.
That could see environmental protection standards not be applied to the project, under the federal government’s proposed public interest exemption.
It comes as federal Labor backs gas as a key part of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in a new policy platform set for debate later this month.
The ALP’s draft platform notes gas has an important role to play in achieving the long-term climate target.
It includes support for new gas projects and associated infrastructure.
The federal government is planning for a gas-fired economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The deadline for feedback has been pushed back to the end of March.
Mr Taylor has also announced $50 million for carbon capture and storage projects.
It’s one of the five priority areas under his technology investment roadmap to reduce emissions.
Environmentalists say carbon capture and storage technologies are not proven, but the government is eyeing them to achieve net zero emissions from power generation, natural gas and hydrogen product, as well as emissions from heavy industry processes.
The fund will provide targeted support to a wide array of opportunities, including carbon recycling.