One of the biggest conundrums we face in Western Australia’s clean energy transition journey, is the tension between global and local gas supply projections.
The International Energy Agency recently affirmed its position that, while gas would have a role all the way up to 2050 in its net zero scenario, gas’ share of the energy mix would be much lower. In this model, the world doesn’t need any new long lead-time gas developments.
But, locally, the Australian Energy Market Operator says WA is facing significant gas supply shortages over the next decade, with population growth, the ending of coal-fired power generation and the expansion of our mining and mineral processing industries driving demand growth. This includes the gas-intensive lithium hydroxide supply chain, a substance needed in abundance to build the batteries the world needs to decarbonise.
AEMO also says these shortages will be much worse without the domestic gas component of Woodside’s Scarborough project, which, challengingly, is viewed by some as one of the long lead time projects the IEA says the world doesn’t need.
Most of us agree on the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to get out of fossil fuels as quickly as possible. But, every economy will have a different pathway to net zero. And, given our unique role in supplying the mineral needs of the global energy transition, WA’s net zero pathway won’t be as straightforward as many would like.
This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.