Public Policy Papers

Public Policy Paper #7/2016: Investing in Electricity Infrastructure in a Low-Carbon Era

Author: Robert Pritchard, Energy Policy Institute of Australia

Key Points

  • The increasing penetration of variable renewable energy (VRE) in the National Energy Market (NEM) is causing the closure of coal- and gas-fired power stations, threatening power system security and creating unmanageable risks for investors. This is giving rise to social effects for which the community is not prepared and is occurring during a period of heightened community dissatisfaction with traditional political processes.
  • The contemporary investment risk profile of each of the three main components of the power system: generation, networks and downstream supply, could not be more different.
  • There is plenty of money available for investment but electricity generation has become a ‘no-go zone’ unless it is supported by government subsidies or by power purchase agreements (PPAs).
  • Investment in electricity networks is almost the opposite - institutional investors are queuing to invest because independent economic regulation provides them with predictable long-term revenues.
  • The NEM is in need of fundamental redesign.
  • Sound economic and scientific information on energy, as well as new processes of end-user and community consultation, will be required to gain community support for the necessary reforms but the focus of reforms should be the formulation of a truly national energy vision.

pdf Click here to download the full paper

Public Policy Paper #6/2016: The "Pressure Cooker" effect of intermittent renewable generation in power systems

Author: Professor Simon Bartlett AM, University of Queensland

Key Points

  • Power systems have fundamental needs: load following, flexibility and dynamic response.
  • Increasing intermittent renewable generation in a power system has a “pressure cooker” effect and can involve an unaffordably high level of integration costs.
  • Every power system is different but, in most systems, the practical upper limit for renewables is around 40% of total electricity generated. This may be exceeded but it is likely to require a greater level of interconnection with adjoining power systems, more energy storage, increased recourse to demand-side management and regulatory changes.
  • The scale-up of intermittent renewables not only diminishes the robustness of a particular power system but can also magnify the short and long-term risk of investing in non-renewable generation assets and the power grid itself. 

pdf Click here to download the full paper

This paper underscores the importance of sound and technology-neutral policies to ensure it remains safe to make long-term investments in Australian energy infrastructure. The Institute is intensifying its efforts in this area.

Public Policy Paper #5/2016: East coast gas pipelines - Is price control warranted?

Author: Dr George Raitt, Piper Alderman

Key Points:

  • After a year-long inquiry, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission concluded that east coast gas markets are competitive, but that pipeline operators are exercising market power. 
  • During the period of the inquiry, east coast gas prices have been affected (and continue to be affected) by growth in demand for export LNG, volatility in oil prices (against which export LNG prices are pegged), and static domestic demand for gas, leading to shortages and higher prices for domestic users.
  • The ACCC conclusion is based on anecdotal evidence, and the inquiry did not conduct a forensic investigation into prices, costs and profits, leading some industry participants to contest the findings that pipeline charges (rather than other market forces) have adversely affected household gas prices. 
  • The ACCC considers that current competition law does not address the inefficiencies they perceive, since they have concluded that east coast gas markets are competitive.  The ACCC has proposed changes to the gas pipeline access regime because the ACCC considers that the regime does not adequately control what it considers to be excessive pipeline charges. 
  • In questioning the ACCC’s conclusions and recommendations, this paper advocates three points.

pdf Click here to download the full paper.

After a year-long inquiry, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission concluded that east coast gas markets are competitive, but that pipeline operators are exercising market power.

Public Policy Paper #4/2016: Cyber Security Policy in the Energy Sector

Authors: Gary Waters and Luigi Sorbello, Jacobs Australia

Key Points

  • National economies and infrastructures are heavily dependent on the energy sector, which itself is increasingly dependent on Information Technology (IT) systems.
  • Ensuring security of supply is an urgent priority in the face of the increasing need for diversity of renewable and clean energy supply, evolving standards, and the escalating sophistication of the cyber security challenges.
  • The solution requires an effective energy and climate policy framework, strong industry leadership, and a pro-active bias for collaboration in the energy sector ecosystem to address security of supply and the cyber security challenges.
  • A disciplined "Systems Engineering" approach, that considers all facets of the complex energy system, including policy, regulation, technology, supply chain, standards, processes, people, detection, protection and defence, remediation, and compliance, can provide the framework to more effectively manage the cyber security challenges and provide a more holistic, coordinated and increased cyber-readiness capability for the Australian energy sector.

pdfClick here to download the full paper.

Public Policy Paper #3/2016: The need for an energy vision in New South Wales

Author: Cristelle Maurin, University College London

Key points:

  • The Goverment of New South Wales seems to have only recently realised the full significance of community engagement in relation to energy resource development.
  • The overhaul of the New South Wales resource exploration regime is a positive step in providing more control to Government over the development of the State's onshore natural gas resources.
  • An energy vision would provide a greater sense of legitimacy for resource development and contribute to policy certainty that highly capital-intensive investments in the energy sector require.
  • An energy vision should enable consideration and integration of multiple perspectives and objectives and ensure social values and environmental objectives are placed at the core of future energy policies.

pdfClick here to download the full paper.

Public Policy Paper #2/2016: Accelerating low-emissions energy innovation - an Australian Perspective

Authors: Professor Chris Greig, Director of the UQ Energy Initiative and Director of the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation, University of Queensland; and Robert Pritchard, Lawyer, and Executive Director of the Energy Policy Institute of Australia.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull signed on in Paris to 'Mission Innovation', an initiative that aims to double investment in clean energy innovation over five years. 

This paper provides an Australian perspective on how this challenge might be addressed.

pdfClick here to download the full paper.

Public Policy Paper #1/2016: Australian climate change policies in 2016: Finding the best policies to meet the target

Author: Tony Wood, Program Director, Grattan Institute

Key points:

  • For Australian domestic policy, the critical outcome of the COP21 Paris Conference was that the Government set a post-2020 emissions reduction target: 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030
  • The Coalition Government's policies, even if on track to achieve the 2020 target, will need more work to achieve the post-2020 target and the Labor Opposition has yet to formulate its position.
  • When political viability and public acceptability are added to criteria of credibility, flexibility, adaptability and low cost, none of the policy options as currently configured fulfils all the criteria.
  • The task for government is to address the limitations or individual policies or find a combination that works.

pdfClick here to download the full paper.

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What's New

Policy Research Note: "The Likely Viability of Nuclear Power in Australia"

pdf graphicClick here to download this Policy Research Note


A Preliminary Commentary on the Collapse of the National Energy Guarantee

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Report on EPIA's April event: "What Can Australia Expect from Nuclear Energy?"

pdf graphic Click here to download this Report 


Report of a debate on the Future of the Electricity Industry held in Sydney on 23 January 2018

pdf graphic Click here to download this Report 

The Institute’s submission to the COAG Energy Council, August 2016.

Policy Papers

Public Policy Papers: A compendium of Key Points (to May 2018) 

Since May 2013 the Institute has published 20 Public Policy Papers.

pdfClick here to view the compendium of key points. 


Public Policy Papers : A Compendium of Key Points (Aug 2016)

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Since May 2013 the Institute has published twelve Public Policy Papers.

pdfClick here to view the compendium of key points.

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