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Industry bodies claim RET legislation underestimates natural gas

Two major industry bodies are encouraging the Federal Government and the Opposition to think more seriously about natural gas as a renewable energy in new legislation.

Both the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) and the Australian Pipeline Industry Association (APIA) have called on the government bodies to think about natural has as a low emissions fuel source while working on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) legislation.

According to APPEA and APIA, the Government and the Opposition have so far overlooked the great opportunities that natural gas can provide as a renewable energy.

“While the proposal to include, in an appropriately limited way, coal mine waste gas provides some certainly to that industry, a broader recognition of the role of natural gas would enhance the effectiveness of the RET,” said APPEA chief executive, Belinda Robinson.

APIA chief executive Cheryl Cartwright said renegotiation of the RET legislation was an opportunity to acknowledge the benefits of natural gas.

“The RET legislation is an opportunity for the Government and Opposition to demonstrate a commitment to the natural gas industry by including encouragement for gas-fired power generation as a back-up fuel for intermittent energy from renewable sources,” Cartwright said.

According to APPEA, natural gas produces 50 to 70 per cent fewer emissions than coal, when used in power generation, and provides a “perfect complement to renewable energy sources”.

APPEA claims however that the RET, as it stands, will slow the potential future growth of natural gas fired power generation by mandating a share of the market for specific, and more expensive, sources of power generation.

APPEA’s Robinson said that one of the common criticisms of existing renewable energy is that it cannot provide base load electricity and therefore requires support from gas fired generators.

“It would be a sensible move by the Government to provide policy and/or financial support for natural gas power generation as the obvious back-up fuel for energy generated by renewable sources,” Robinson said.

Cartwright added: “Natural gas will play an important role in Australia’s future energy generation; it should not be ignored in the political negotiations over the Renewable Energy Target.”

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