Australia invokes emergency powers to block coal exports in energy crisis

Australian authorities have empowered themselves to block coal exports if the resource is needed to alleviate the country’s crippling power crisis, in the latest measure taken to avoid the risk of power outages.

Rising coal and gas prices, coupled with outages of aging coal-fired power plants, have rocked the market this week, forcing the Australian Energy Market Operator to take control of the wholesale market to ensure a reliable supply of electricity to the eastern states. to guarantee.

The New South Wales government on Friday invoked emergency powers to require miners operating in the state to divert coal going overseas to local generators. On the advice of AEMO, a precautionary measure has been taken to strengthen energy security.

“We’re just giving ourselves all the leverage we need to reassure the community that we’re doing everything we can to keep the system running,” said Matt Kean, the Secretary of State for Energy and Treasurer of New South Wales, the most populous of New South Wales. the country. state.

The energy crisis has caused the failure of Australiaone of the world’s largest producers of fossil fuels, to prepare for the transition to renewable energy sources by investing in the modernization of the country’s electricity infrastructure, analysts say.

“We are in a precarious position. It’s a global story because there’s a gas shortage and prices are skyrocketing, but for Australia it’s combined with coal plants going offline,” said Ben Oquist, executive director of the Australia Institute think tank.

The crisis has made clear how a failure to prepare for renewable energy that a greater portion of the domestic supply hit the country’s consumers in the form of higher bills and possible power outages, he added.

The government this week asked consumers in New South Wales, including Sydney and the coal-rich Hunter Valley, to save energy by turning off lights at night and using white goods to avoid the risk of blackouts.

The crisis coincided with unusually cold weather, forcing many consumers to use freestanding stoves due to the lack of insulation and central heating in many homes.

The shortage of energy has put pressure on the prime minister Anthony Albanian, who took office less than a month ago and pledged during his election campaign to deliver cheaper energy bills. He has also recommitted to a sharper reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 than the previous administration and to encourage more investment in renewable energy.

“What we’re paying here is 10 years of delay and denial. We haven’t gotten the necessary investment in the energy sector because we don’t have the investment security that companies need,” he told local media. “Our plan will deliver approximately A$52 billion in private sector investment in new energy over the next few years.”

The previous administration of Scott Morrison was: carefully on plans to accelerate the energy transition by bringing forward the closure of coal-fired power plants amid concerns about rising consumer prices and supply.

Morrison also launched a “gas-fired recovery plan” during the pandemic, which provided grants and grants for new exploration projects.

Oquist said the former prime minister should have boosted investment in the power grid and storage to promote renewable energy. “We would have a gas-fired storage room, but I think we have a gas-induced catastrophe,” he said. “Morrison put political power in gas during Covid, but it has put Australia in a very vulnerable position.”

Australia is one of the world’s largest gas producers, but the fuel is mainly exported. Albanian said calls to build a gas reserve for domestic use must be weighed against an increased risk if the industry were to break contracts.

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