Australia needs to invest in clean energy to maximise the economic potential for gas exports and ensure energy affordability for domestic users, the Clean Energy Council‚Äôs Chief Executive David Green told a power and utilities conference in Sydney this morning.
Mr Green said easing power price rises may not be the light at the end of the tunnel many think, with rising gas prices about to hit hard.
"With a domestic supply crisis looming, gas prices are predicted to double or even triple within 10 years on the east coast of Australia. If we don‚Äôt act soon to reduce consumption and invest in alternative sources of energy, that light at the end of the tunnel could turn out to be an oncoming freight train," he said.
"The cost of gas is high and rising, and it would be a mistake to convince ourselves that we‚Äôve turned the corner on the cost of energy.
"This presents us with challenges, but also an opportunity ‚Äì to diversify our energy supply with renewables and invest in energy efficiency," he said.
Mr Green said using smarter energy technologies and investing now in other sources of large-scale energy generation, like wind, bioenergy and solar, could help keep a lid on power prices and also ensure that gas exports could continue to make a positive contribution to Australia‚Äôs economic bottom line.
The key policy measure driving clean energy forward in Australia, the Renewable Energy Target, has already delivered $18.5 billion of investment with $3.7 billion of projects currently in construction or development. At the same time, the amount consumers pay to fund the policy is forecast to fall to just 4 per cent of the average bill by 2020 from 6 per cent today.
"This represents a win-win for the industry and policymakers, who are currently grappling with the twin challenges of keeping energy prices affordable, but also continuing to make the best use of Australia‚Äôs enviable natural resources," said Mr Green.
"Renewable sources of energy are largely immune to the kinds of international cost pressures that are forcing up prices for businesses and consumers, so investing in renewable energy is a sensible and safe approach to ensuring Australia‚Äôs continued energy security.
"The other piece of the puzzle is that we need to get smarter about the ways we use energy so that we can avoid needing to build new conventional power stations we may not need in the long term," he said.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981.
The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for Australia‚Äôs clean energy industry, working with more than 600 solar, wind, energy efficiency, energy storage, bioenergy, hydro, cogeneration, geothermal and marine energy businesses. We are committed to accelerating the transformation of Australia‚Äôs energy system into one that is smarter, cleaner and more consumer-focused. More information at cleanenergycouncil.org.au.