Energy Minister Chris Bowen blames coal for the gas crisis

The man in charge of Australia’s overloaded energy system has blamed one thing for the current crisis.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen reiterated that there are no easy solutions to Australia’s energy crisis as the nation’s gas prices are skyrocketing.

But he defended the nation’s gas producers, insisting they had “responded when the government asked them.”

Wholesale electricity and gas prices rose due to a perfect storm of national and international factors.

The war in Ukraine has led to a global gas shortage, prompting Australia to rely on its old coal-fired power plants, at least 25% of which are offline due to scheduled or unscheduled outages.

On Wednesday a roundtable of the nation’s energy ministers agreed on an 11-point plan to address the crisis, including empowering the Australian energy market operator to adequately procure and store gas as a supply.

Ministers also agreed to work on the capacity mechanism, which would essentially require energy retailers to pay for power generators to access additional capacity.

Speaking Thursday, Mr. Bowen rejected his suggestion that the plan would hamper the nation’s transition to renewable energy.

“In fact, the transition is even more important now,” Bowen told Sunrise.

“A lot of people call it the gas crisis … but this is more of a coal crisis.

“This has been driven more by coal-fired power plants which are getting very old and we’ve had outages and floods in coal mines and that’s what drove this crisis.”

Mr. Bowen also defended the gas companies amid calls to do more to alleviate price increases.

“They need to be aware of their domestic responsibilities and they responded when the government asked them to,” Bowen told ABC.

But ultimately he pointed out that producers had a “social license” to do the right thing by consumers.

“There is a social license against corporations and gas companies have to do the right thing by both industrial and domestic Australian household consumers,” he said.

Originally published as ‘The transition is even more important’: the real reason for the Australian energy crisis