“One is because it’s got half the greenhouse gas emissions to coal so it lends itself to base load power,” she explains. “It’s extremely flexible – you can use it in your car, use it for heat; it lends itself to the building of small units, so it lends itself to distributive generation projects; it’s reasonably cheap, quick and easy to build – you can build it in modular form; and, Australia has a lot of it.”
With three gas markets – the Northern Territory market, the West Coast market and the East Coast market – Ms Robinson says the country has at least 110 years-worth at current rates of production. And despite concerns over domestic supply, the country has not reached the stage where the industry needs to focus on tapping into its tight gas reserves.
Ms Robinson says that the shortage of supply on the west coast is not due to insufficient gas and the state government is exploring all manner of gas supplies – including tight gas – to address the problem. After all, she explains, the West Australian government has a legitimate desire to make sure that the domestic market has access to competitively priced supplies of gas for the long term and believes that tight gas may be part of that.
“But in terms of Australia as a whole, we do have plenty of gas,” she says. “It’s really all about making sure that the market works appropriately so that the gas can be brought online at the time when people require it.”
With so much gas, Ms Robinson disagrees that it is a transitional fuel. Gas is a fuel of the present and the future.
“We think it has a very, very strong role to play in assisting the Australian economy make the transition to a low carbon economy, she says, clarifying that this is different to gas as a transitional fuel. “We think gas is there for the long haul; it’s not a transitional fuel at all. It’s a long term fuel but it is very well placed to make a substantial difference to Australia reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, particularly through its use for electricity generation.”