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Changing the mix in power generation

Federal and state energy ministers meet Friday in Melbourne to try and plot a future mix in the production of electricity that balances a secure and reliable supply with an increase in the clean energy component. Like most other meetings of COAG it is doomed to fail, because of deep differences of opinion between the Coalition government and Labor and the Greens on the speed of change.

In the wake of cyclonic winds and storms that shut down the entire power supply to the state of South Australia for three days in the past fortnight, the debate now attracts more public interest, as well as pointing up the opportunities for further Chinese investment.


At the moment only the island state of Tasmania is fully dependent on renwable energy because of its suberb hydro-electric schemes.  Elsewhere, as the chart shows, South Australia is the leader, with 41.3 percent from renewables, mostly less than consistent wind power. Although it contains the world’s largest uranium mine, it does not have a nuclear power station, nor does any other state, because Labor and the Greens proscribe this development.

Victoria has 12.1 per cent from renewables, but plans to double this by closing its main coal-fired power station, which provides the biggest single source of power to the city of Melbourne. Queensland has ambition plans to convert to 50% renewables, which is now national Labor policy.The problem is Opposition leader Bill Shorten has yet to explain who is going to pay for it, though the answer is – the public.

In terms of investment, here is a state-by-state breakdown of foreign ownership of generation.

ACT: Singapore Power Corporation owns 40 pc.

NSW: It had hoped to lease its poles and wires to a Chinese company, but this was vetoed  by the Treasurer. It is looking for a new lessee.

South Australia: Cheung Kong Infrastructure/Power Assets owns a 51-per-cent share, on a 200-year lease, in SA Power Networks Electricity Distribution network.

Victoria: China’s State Grid Corporation State Grid owns a 20-per-cent share in AusNet Services Electricity Distribution. It also owns 60 per cent of Jemena, the company which owns Jemena Electricity Distribution Victoria and 34 per cent of United Energy Electricity Distribution Victoria.Cheung Kong Infrastructure/Power Assets owns a 51-per-cent share in both CitiPower Electricity Distribution Network Victoria and Powercor Electricity Distribution Network Victoria.