Photo: The Hazelwood power station in Victoria's Gippsland region closed in April this year. (ABC News: James Manolis)
The chief scientist is calling for a new clean energy target that could bring Australia closer to ending a decade of bitterness on climate policy.A major review of Australia's energy sector by chief scientist Alan Finkel will recommend adopting a new clean energy target, promote a greater use of gas and put a bigger focus on energy storage.
A clean energy target is the primary recommendation in Dr Finkel's report, which will be released tomorrow.
7.30 understands the report concludes that a properly designed clean energy target could reduce electricity prices faster than an emissions intensity scheme or business-as-usual.
Dr Finkel's report seeks to be faithful to the goal of carbon abatement while not being blind to the poisonous politics surrounding climate change.
To that end, the clean energy target would be technology-neutral, meaning it could include so-called "clean coal" and gas.
Clean energy would be defined as coming from sources that produce no more than 700 kilograms of carbon per megawatt. That would allow for wind, solar, gas and nuclear — it could potentially include coal-fired power stations equipped with carbon capture and storage technology.
Using more gas
Photo: Landholders have raised concerns about coal seam gas mining in Australia. (ABC News: Pip Courtney)
Dr Finkel's report will affirm gas as an important transition fuel, recommending a redoubling of efforts to prove the science and environmental sustainability of conventional and non-conventional gas extraction, such as coal seam gas.
This points to a battle in Victoria, which has banned onshore gas fracking, and in New South Wales where there is a moratorium on non-conventional gas projects.
Focus on storage
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Dr Finkel will recommend a bigger focus on energy storage, in batteries and pumped hydro, and the Government may mandate this for future wind and solar farms.
Slower coal mine closuresOn coal, Dr Finkel will recommend more notice for companies wanting to close their power stations.
Rather than allowing closures within six months, as happened with Hazelwood power station in Victoria, Dr Finkel recommends a notice period of three to five years.