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Australia fights high electricity prices

Since Russia's war against Ukraine, energy prices have skyrocketed worldwide like in Australia with the government taking countermeasures and thus coming under oppositional fire.

Australia has a new government since the end of May this year. Labour Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had already promised during the election campaign that his country, which still generates 80 percent of its electricity from coal, would in the future focus on expanding renewable energies and advancing the energy transition. This is one of the reasons why he was elected to office, as Australians have felt the effects of global climate change first hand in recent years through devastating forest fires and floods.

In December 2021, as part of his election campaign Albanese promised $275 in energy price relief. Since then, however, much has changed in the world. Among other things, Russia's war has sent energy prices through the roof. While the political opposition is now doing everything to place the meanwhile untenable promise in the public eye, the Australian government is doing the only thing making sense: investing in the energy transition.

Until now, the Australian states have been the driving force behind the expansion of renewable energies, partly because the previous government under Prime Minister Scott Morrison strongly supported the coal industry and took climate change lightly. But the new government now wants to follow suit at federal level, announcing for the first time a legislative target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a 43% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Last week first major investments in transmission expansion, which no one had adequately addressed for years were announced .

Thus the expansion of the VNI West (KerangLink) transmission lines between the states of Victoria and New South Wales and the Marinus Link between Tasmania and Victoria were announced, making them fit for renewable energy and expected to reduce energy prices in the long term. "These projects are national priorities that need to be urgently progressed. They will provide grid support for early coal generator closures, deliver additional power from Snowy 2.0 and give mainland Australian states access to Tasmanian hydro power. They will facilitate the connection of additional renewable energy, which is the cheapest form of electricity," the government said as part of its 'Rewiring the Nation' program.

In addition to the two lines, up to $1 billion in low-cost credits is available for eligible battery projects in Tasmania, up to $1.5 billion for renewable energy and offshore wind projects in Victoria.

Australia's coasts offer ideal conditions for the expansion of offshore wind power (Image: Pixabay)

Especially in offshore wind power, Australia's coasts offer enormous potential. To this end, a community consultation for an offshore wind area in Bass Strait, which separates South Australia from the island of Tasmania, took place in Gippsland, Victoria, in recent months. Another area in the Southern Ocean off Portland will be considered in the future.

Fittingly, Vena Energy, one of the leading renewable energy project developers in the Asia-Pacific region, is unveiling its plans for the 2,000 MW Blue Marlin offshore wind project off the coast of Victoria. Owen Sela, head of Vena Energy in Australia, explains the importance of the project: "Recent changes in regulation and market landscape have highlighted the importance of offshore wind as a large-scale renewable energy source that has the potential to deliver improved security of supply, greater diversity in the energy mix, and better outcomes for electricity consumers."

Let's hope that the current government will have enough time to ensure a permanent expansion of energy transition projects before the opposition will be able to change the mood among the Australian population.

Katrin Radtke
Australia, electricity prices, offshore, federal state, opposition, coal, renewable energy, countermeasures, energy transition

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