Gas Import Jetty & Pipeline Discussion

effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

Starter

thank you for providing the opportunity for public input. 

I am very concerned about the following: 

Firstly, can AGL guarantee there will be no damage to the Ramsar-listed wetlands of Westernport Bay? Given that Victoria is already a net exporter of gas, I struggle to comprehend the logic of another gas proposal, particularly one that could involve precious wetland destruction. 

Secondly, Australia is committed under the Paris Agreement to reducing greenhouse gas emissions with an aim of keeping global warming within 2 degrees (ideally 1.5). Given Australia's commitments, and following the IPCC report of 2018 which made abundantly clear the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels within the next decade if we are to have a hope of achieving the Paris objective, could you please explain how establishing how a gas import terminal (which would significantly increase Victoria's consumption of gas), is consistent with Paris? What efforts has AGL made to produce alternative plans that prioritise renewable energy infrastructure? 
Thanks very much. 

8 REPLIES 8

Re: effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

AGL Employee

Thank you for engaging with us.

 

To even consider this project, we must plan for any possible failures (the worst-case scenarios) assuming they could happen no matter how unlikely. As our Chairman stated at the 2018 AGM ‘Until this company and all companies can get to a position where they have zero incidents in environmental safety or whatever they're not doing a good enough job.‘

 

We are aware there is significant community concern around the potential impact our project will have on the RAMSAR listed wetland and acknowledge these are of environmental significance. Western Port is an important environmental asset that requires care.

 

AGL is Australia’s largest corporate emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, AGL has Australia’s largest privately-owned and operated portfolio of large-scale renewable energy assets.

 

Over 80 per cent of electricity produced in Australia is sourced from the combustion of fossil fuels. To achieve the Paris Agreements’ ‘two degrees’ outcome (or the more ideal and concerted effort of 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels), AGL need to decarbonise our fleet and build on our existing renewable technology. This is likely to take several decades given the sheer scale of replacing the existing generation fleet with low-emissions substitute technology such as solar and windfarms.

 

Renewables are the future of energy and AGL is committed to getting out of coal from 2022. As we move out of coal, gas will be used to maintain the lowest cost for energy possible and ensure efficient, reliable power generation. A technological issue we have with renewables is the difficulty of energy storage, as we develop technology to solve this (which we expect to soon), we do need to ensure supply to our customers.

 

When renewables are unavailable, gas can be turned on. Unfortunately, given the sheer scale of replacing the existing generation fleet with low-emissions substitute technology such as solar and windfarms this process may take several decades.

 

Replacing coal with gas helps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. As an example, mix of renewable and gas technologies can replace AGL’s Liddell coal plant when it closes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum.

Re: effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

Starter

Some of the "facts" in your reply, Lachlan, are not accurate. Australia needs to decarbonise urgently and rapidly and gas is not the way.  It's "less worse" than coal, but certainly not a "clean" alternative. I would like to make two points:

1. Re your statement that: "Replacing coal with gas helps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. As an example, mix of renewable and gas technologies can replace AGL’s Liddell coal plant when it closes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum." It's true that gas emissions for generating electricity are about 50-60% of coal, however they are still carbon emissions. Gas generation of electricity will divert investment in, and the implementation of, renewable energy technology and storage.  The adoption of gas-generated electricity will critically delay Australia's shift to net carbon zero emissions. We don't need it.

2. More seriously, your statement omits discussion of the extraction processes. Increased gas extraction is pushing emissions up, not down, due to its increase of fugitive and stationary energy emissions. Fugitive emissions are mostly methane which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, with a co2-equivalent of around 34 times. On page 3 of the (Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy) Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: June 2018 (the one released on Grand Final eve) it states: "National emissions levels for the June quarter 2018 increased 1.3 per cent relative to the previous quarter on a seasonally adjusted and weather normalised basis. Emissions for the year to June 2018 increased 0.6 per cent or 3.4 Mt CO2-e. This increase was mainly driven by LNG production for export, with volumes increasing 18.4 per cent."  

Further, on page 6 it states: "Increases in stationary energy emissions reflect strong growth in production over the year in mining and manufacturing including, in particular, increases in LNG exports (up 18.4 per cent), steel production (up 6.8 per cent) and aluminium production (up 3.0 per cent). Growth in LNG also strongly impacted fugitive emissions due to flaring and the venting of methane and carbon dioxide and the steel production increase also impacted industrial process emissions."

This report demonstrates very clearly that gas extraction and production increases emission levels in a time when we desperately need to be reducing them.

 

 

Re: effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

Sparky

Great comment. I ask why is AGL not doing all it can to reduce emissions?

Why are we exporting gas to other countries then buying it back?

Re: effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

AGL Employee

Hi @Suedwyer,

 

We’d just like to apologise for the delay in addressing your enquiry – we have received a large number of complex and detailed questions that we need to discuss with a few specialists.

 

This is not the way we want to deal with community concerns and we’re working to be more responsive in the future.

 

We’ll respond to your question shortly.

 

Thanks,

Lachlan

Re: effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

AGL Employee

Hi @Suedwyer,

 

I understand your concern around the need to urgently decarbonise. While we would like to do this, we have to balance this need with the needs of our 2.2 million electricity customers. For us and our customers, an electricity system that isn’t reliable, isn’t sustainable.

 

We agree that some methods of natural gas extraction, including hydraulic fracturing of coal seams, do increase the carbon emissions per unit of gas. It is possible there will be gas sourced from this method imported through the proposed facility.

 

However, most of the gas produced in the world still comes from traditional sources, not coal seam gas.  We are most likely to buy gas from these traditional sources (such as from Qatar and Africa) because it is the same sort of gas that we use in Victoria which relied on traditional gas reserves in Bass Strait which are now in decline.

 

Energy is an industry in great transition, moving towards reliable power for customers that’s low cost and low carbon.

 

Gas is playing a critical role in this transition. Right now, we have $1.9 billion worth of energy supply projects under development, with a further $1.5 billion subject to feasibility.

 

These projects range from upgrades to our existing sites to new renewables projects. A number are gas-firming projects which play an important role in this transition period to ensure clean, reliable and affordable electricity.

 

We understand that gas is only a medium-term fuel, and while some would like us to jump straight to renewables, we need a reliable supply of lower emission fuel to generate the firming capacity needed to make an effective transition to renewables over the coming decades.

 

Gas-fired power generation has proved to be a relatively low cost, low emissions source of synchronous generation and has provided critical network stability, along with other technologies.

 

Synchronous generation is critical to enable the supply of electricity through the entire National Electricity Market. Unfortunately, renewables and battery technology has not yet developed to provide for this kind of stability in the grid.

 

A stable regulatory environment is also important to facilitate investment in energy and ensure Australians have access to reliable, clean and affordable energy in the years ahead.

 

Clearly, there are challenges to address, but we believe the benefits for customers and Australia’s productivity are clear and gas provides the best way of transitioning to a clean, cost-effective and reliable power.

 

We have a video on our website about this particular hurdle we have encountered in our transition to renewables. You can view it here.

 

Please see the discussion about fugitive emissions in the forum here.

Re: effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

AGL Employee

Hi @sunflower,

 

We recognise that as Australia’s largest corporate emitter of carbon, AGL has an obligation to do all it can to reduce its emissions. We have a plan to transition out coal from 2022. We are also working to decarbonise our electricity generation portfolio.

 

Someday soon, we expect that the technology required for a fully renewable electricity network will be available. Unfortunately, technology is just not there yet.

 

Right now, we have $1.9 billion worth of energy supply projects under development, with a further $1.5 billion subject to feasibility.

 

These projects range from upgrades to our existing sites to new renewables projects. A number are gas-firming projects which play an important role in this transition period to ensure clean, reliable and affordable electricity.

 

We believe gas fired power stations will assist us in this transition to a decarbonised electricity generation portfolio.

 

Whilst it is a possibility that Australian gas will be exported to another country and then imported back through the proposed import terminal, this is highly unlikely as the associated costs of doing so would not be feasible.

 

It would be more cost effective to purchase the gas directly from where it is extracted, instead of obtaining gas from a country that has a need to import it.

Re: effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

Starter

Thank you for your reply, Lachlan. In the next response you mention AGL is transitioning out of coal by 2022. When is AGL planning to transition out of gas?

 

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Re: effects on greenhouse gas emissions, Ramsar

AGL Employee

Hi Suedwyer,

 

As Australia and AGL transition to a decarbonised electricity network, the national grid requires backup for periods where intermittent renewables aren’t generating the required supply.

 

AGL is retiring its fleet of coal fired power stations, with the first closure being Liddell in 2022, then Bayswater in 2035, and Loy Yang A in 2048.

 

The video I linked you to earlier on our website highlights the issue with achieving renewable powered synchronous electricity – technology is just not there yet. This is also another factor that needs to be planned for in a transition to a fully renewable grid.

 

When technology develops to a stage where we can deliver fully renewable, reliable and affordable electricity then we will be in a position where we can evaluate the phasing out of gas-powered generation.

 

In the meantime, we have $1.9 billion worth of energy supply projects under development, with a further $1.5 billion subject to feasibility. This includes new gas-powered generation that is yet to be constructed.