The Finkel Review

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Since South Australia’s much vaunted power blackout’s, energy security has become a political flashpoint in Australia and energy issues continue to hog the headlines.

South Australia’s woes prompted the Government to call on Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, to conduct an independent review of the energy market – the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market (NEM) - and invite submissions from all interested parties. These closed in early March.

The Institute met with Dr Finkel and his team early on in the review process and Dr Finkel was receptive to what he heard about the technology, speaking positively to media and government in the following days.

Our submission to the Review stressed the following key points:

  • CCS is essential to achieving Paris climate targets and can play a significant role in a future Australian low emissions power system
  • CCS is proven, safe, reliable and operating at commercial scale in the power sector today
  • CCS is being blocked from competing with renewable sources because of an in-principle and ill-founded perceptions of its cost and association with fossil fuels
  • CCS on coal and gas-fired generation is cost competitive with other low emission technologies, and like other technologies, will decrease in cost with higher rates of deployment
  • Fossil fuel generators equipped with CCS complement other intermittent sources of low carbon generation by providing controllable output and other benefits to system stability and operation.


The submission was supported by a media release which compared the costs of CCS with other clean technologies.

Asia Pacific General Manager, Alex Zapantis, told the Australian newspaper and ABC (radio) that storing carbon emissions from gas and coal fired plants was already cost competitive with battery supported renewables.

“We should be comparing CCS to the cost of battery storage which is estimated at $300 per megawatt hour, plus the cost of wind.

“New coal plants that store carbon are estimated to cost between $160 and $200/MWH, while retrofitting old coal stations is estimated at between $80 and $130.”

Dr Finkel will report back to the Government with recommendations by the middle of the year.

Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, who is leading the review of Australian energy industry markets