Front cover of EFF final report.
Energy Futures Forum releases final report
After two years of research, discussion and debate, today the Energy Futures Forum (EFF) released its final report – ‘The Heat is On: The Future of Energy in Australia’.
The somewhat experimental concept of the EFF was created in 2004 as a means of engaging a wide set of stakeholders from the energy and transport sectors – energy suppliers, generators, distributors, major energy end-users, financiers, government and community representatives – in developing scenarios for the future of energy in Australia to 2050 and, in doing so, consider the implications for Australia’s future.
The report primarily examines the issue of addressing climate change since this was identified early on in the process by the EFF as the most pressing concern for the Australian energy sector.
In addressing such a politically sensitive topic the report seeks to be neutral but informative by stating what is already agreed and by providing useful input to decision-makers in industry and government on what options will need their careful consideration and further research.
“..we have not made recommendations for specific investments or government policy; instead we have sought to present a cogent view of the various elements to be considered when assessing the most prospective technological pathways in the stationary energy and transport sectors,” says the EFF in a joint statement.
“While the views contained in this Report do not necessarily represent the views of any single, or all, organisations participating in the project, we have been immensely pleased by the level of consensus that we have achieved in coming to terms with the subject matter.”
“The findings are based on discussion of a wide range of research that was applied to the EFF’s postulated scenarios.”
The report covers a wide range of issues for energy stakeholders to consider, however, several key findings in the report include:
- On the basis of risk assessment, it is likely that the global benefits of avoiding climate change will outweigh the global costs of mitigation (this finding echoes the recently released Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change). However, Australia’s energy intensive and trade exposed industries, such as aluminium and iron and steel, and the regional areas they are based in may be disproportionately impacted.
- It is projected that both the Australian and World economies will continue to grow when carrying out greenhouse gas mitigation. Furthermore, electricity can be expected to remain affordable for households. While retail electricity prices will increase under carbon pricing by between 7 and 20 per cent by 2050, those increases will be below the change in real income per capita in Australia which is expected to rise by over 100 per cent by 2050.
- The greater the participation of countries world wide in greenhouse gas mitigation the lower the cost of mitigation for Australia.
- The cost of addressing climate change is lowest for Australia when it can choose from all available low emission technologies, in partnership with improvements in energy efficiency improvements and demand management. All low emission technologies have varying degrees of advantages and disadvantages from economic, social or environmental perspectives.
- Uncertainty regarding climate change policy in Australia increases investment risk, particularly in electricity generation. If the risks remain too high for too long then it could lead to higher electricity costs.
- While the EFF’s economic modelling focuses on carbon prices and emission trading, there are a wide variety of policies which could be brought to bear in Australia at different times.
- There are several key issues unresolved by the work of the EFF and on which further work would be valuable. One of these is the timing and nature of the mix of actions that will drive the shift towards a lower carbon energy future.
The findings are based on discussion of a wide range of research that was applied to the EFF’s postulated scenarios. This included economic modelling, risk-assessment analysis of climate change, and social mapping to gauge potential views of the public towards various energy options.
“As with any futures exercise the Report does not resolve the uncertainties we in the research community, and other energy sector stakeholders, face,” says Dr John Wright, Director of the CSIRO’s Energy Transformed Flagship. “However, it clearly articulates the key technological, social and environmental challenges that CSIRO, in partnership with our stationary energy and transport stakeholders, will seek to address on behalf of the Australian community to 2050 and beyond.”
The full report - along with five further supporting satellite reports - can be found on the web following this link: http://www.csiro.au/energyfuturesforumreport or http://www.csiro.au/csiro/content/file/pfnd.html
Press Conference details
Seven members from the Energy Futures Forum will be available for a media briefing as follows:
- Date: Tuesday, 5th December, 2006
- Venue: Hyatt Hotel Federation Ballroom, Canberra, Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla
- Time: 10.30am sharp
The following members will be present:
- Dr John Wright, Director, Energy Transformed Flagship, CSIRO
- Mr David Bowker, Manager Regulatory Affairs, Hydro Tasmania
- Mr Jim Beckwith, Decision Support Manager, Macquarie Generation
- Mr Tony Wood, General Manager Public and Government Affairs, Origin Energy
- Mr Greg Bourne, CEO, WWF Australia
- Mr Greg Mclean, Assistance National Secretary Australian Services Union, ACTU
- Mr Oleg Morozow, Director, RPS Ecos (Independent Chair, EFF)
Energy Futures Forum Participants
- Alcoa World Alumina Australia
- Australian Automobile Association
- Australian Council of Social Service
- Australian Council of Trade Unions
- BHP Billiton
- Hydro Tasmania
- Loy Yang Power
- NSW electricity generators*
- Origin Energy
- Public Interest Advocacy Centre
- Rio Tinto
- Stanwell Corporation
- Westpac Banking Corporation
- Woodside Energy
- WWF Australia
- Xstrata Coal
* Joint participants Delta Electricity, Eraring Energy & Macquarie Generation
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