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Garbage can theory and Australia's National Electricity Market: Decarbonisation in a hostile policy environment

Paul Simshauser ()

Energy Policy, 2018, vol. 120, issue C, 697-713

Abstract: After two decades of consistent economic and technical performance, conditions in Australia's National Electricity Market (NEM) deteriorated sharply in 2016/17. Prices more than doubled on the east coast, tripled in South Australia (SA), and the SA regional grid collapsed. Nothing spectacular occurred with final demand – this was a supply-side energy crisis driven by the exit of 18% of Australia's coal-fired generation fleet and the inadequate entry of new plant. Australia's NEM encountered an uncoordinated exit-driven episode of the Resource Adequacy problem. In the USA where 18% of coal plant has also exited, Resource Adequacy and low cost energy has been maintained by the entry of an enormous fleet of wind, solar and gas-fired generators. In Australia, an equivalent response did not occur; decades of climate change policy discontinuity meant the speed of coal plant exit was unpredictable, entry of renewables delayed through stop-start policy, and gas-fired plant was subject to critical hold-up due to excess LNG plant investment. Resolution requires a united and stable climate change policy architecture that works with, not against, the NEM's world-class institutional design, and greater transparency around planned plant exit.

Keywords: Resource Adequacy; Climate change policy; Garbage can theory (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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