The (default) strategy determining the secuirty of Australia's energy supply
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The matter of Australia's energy supply security has been totally eclipsed by the current debate on climate change. Should we be concerned? What is energy security and how is it determined? What impact will climate change policies have on energy security? Does Australia need a national strategy? This paper seeks to answer these questions by first examining the concept of 'security of energy supply' which has quietly slipped into the energy lexicon and assumed a relatively prominent position without any meaningful discourse about its meaning or assumptions. It is contended that the concept is inherently slippery because of its polysemic nature having multiple dimensions and taking on different specificities depending on the country (or continent), timeframe or energy source to which it is applied. A four-dimensional grid of availability, adequacy of capacity, affordability and sustainability is proposed to assess energy supply security over the short and long term. The paper argues that, in the absence of a national strategy, the short and long term security of Australia's energy supply is being determined by default, by the conjunction of a vast range of existing policies, all of which have been specifically implemented to address other objectives. The impact of existing and potential 'non-energy-security' policies on Australia's supply security is shown by applying the aforementioned four dimensional-grid. A final section discusses the policy antagonisms within Australia's default strategy and concludes that the strongest threat, in the short and long term, to Australia's energy security is to adequacy of capacity.
This article copyrighted and reprinted by permission from the International Association for Energy Economics-IAEE. The material first appeared in the proceedings of the 2008 2nd International Association for Energy Economics Asian Conference IAEE.
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