Whether you believe the National Energy Guarantee, or N.E.G., is right for Australia depends on your world view. There have been both positive and negative opinions shared since the guarantee was announced last week. For me, I’m still on the fence. As always, the devil is in the detail, and we need to see how it starts to play out. My first reaction is that I am nervous that so much responsibility has been given to the retailers. If we look at other examples where this has occurred, while I like the concept of retail competition, I don’t think its execution has put the consumer first here in Australia. It has put the retailer first. I fear the same will happen with metering competition being introduced next month and I have the same concerns with the N.E.G. I am pleased we now have a framework within which to work, but disappointed in the emissions reduction target we have set and the underlying message on the Government’s own website that says reduced emissions…
“…cannot come at the expense of the reliability and affordability of our electricity system.”
I am not suggesting reliability and affordability are not vital, they are. I just feel we have placed the wrong emphasis on emissions. Instead of saying we need a reliable and affordable electricity system that must meet specific emissions targets, I was hoping we may have led the world by setting very aggressive emissions targets and made it clear we don’t compromise on this goal. We could have still paired this with reliability and price objectives, setting the stage for our brilliant engineers, scientists, and technologists, to innovate ways to achieve the target.
Australia already has the highest adoption of rooftop solar per capita in the world. With growing adoption of large-scale solar and wind, local battery storage and demand-side management, we are in a perfect position to catapult ourselves as a world leader in building a low carbon society. Given the N.E.G’s focus, have we now missed that opportunity?
On the surface, the N.E.G has provided a solid framework from which we can all work from, but it has not created the urgent call to action that the nation can be proud of and get behind. Australia has been making inroads on emissions reductions, but we are still one of the worst emitters per capita in the world.
Humankind has never achieved greatness by making incremental improvements. I only hope that as a community, we continue our adoption of behind the meter technologies and demand management services to move to a zero-emission society regardless of the targets set out in the National Energy Guarantee.
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