The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is responsible for operating Australia’s largest gas and electricity markets and power systems, including the National Electricity Market (NEM), the interconnected power system in Australia’s eastern and south-eastern seaboard. The AEMO has released its 2017 Gas Statement of Opportunities (GSOO), intended to assess the adequacy of gas infrastructure, reserves and resources to meet demand in eastern and south-eastern Australia to 2036.
The GSOO finds that declining gas production may result in insufficient gas to meet projected demand by Gas Powered Generation for supply of electricity from summer 2018–19. To meet electricity supply needs, the NEM requires either increases in gas production to fuel GPG, or a rapid implementation of alternative non-gas electricity generation sources. If neither occurs, AEMO projects that declining gas supplies could result in electricity supply shortfalls between 2019 and 2021 of approximately 80 gigawatt hours (GWh) to 363 GWh across South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria. Overall gas production for the domestic market is projected to decline from 600 PJ in 2017 to 478 PJ in 2021.
The 2017 GSOO highlights a projected decline in gas production at a time when withdrawal of coal-fired generation in the NEM is increasing reliance on GPG to maintain reliable and secure electricity supply
and meet emissions reduction targets. AEMO forecasts that sufficient electricity generation alternatives, relying on fuel sources such as black coal, will be available to meet electricity demand until summer 2018–19.
The stupidity in all this is that what is now a crisis was entirely predicable and solvable with half-way decent collation of information, coordination of policy and political cooperation.