Infrastructure Victoria is inviting Victorians to give their feedback on an interim report on the future of gas infrastructure in the transformation to a zero emissions economy by 2050.

The interim report, Towards 2050: Gas infrastructure in a zero emissions economy, presents evidence and analysis that will underpin Infrastructure Victoria’s final advice and outlines the key early findings.

Feedback on the evidence and analysis presented in this report is invited before Infrastructure Victoria provides its final advice to government on the best pathways for gas infrastructure to 2050.

You can watch a webinar on the key findings here and or view the presentation here.

Infrastructure Victoria has been asked to provide the Victorian Government with advice relating to Victoria’s gas transmission and distribution networks under a range of 2050 energy sector scenarios.

Under the Victorian Climate Change Act 2017, the Victorian Government has committed to a whole-of-economy, net zero emissions target by 2050.

The advice will assess the relative economic, social, and environmental impacts of each scenario and identify infrastructure decisions that need to be made, and when, to ensure opportunities for existing gas infrastructure can be optimised. 

This will include exploring the extent to which gas infrastructure can be used for hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and/or biomethane.

Infrastructure Victoria CEO, Michel Masson, said, “Natural gas has been good to Victoria for more than half a century, heating our homes, cooking our food, and powering our industries and businesses all thanks to cheap, local supply.

“But the days of cheap gas are coming to an end. 

“Natural gas is also a fossil fuel responsible for 20 per cent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, meaning our use of gas must change significantly if Victoria is to meet its emissions reductions targets and reduce the risks of climate change.”

Early findings from the interim report include:

  • Starting immediately, a mix of approaches will be needed to transform how Victorians use gas, to reduce emissions, manage risks, minimise costs and create new opportunities for jobs and industry.
  • The Victorian Government can support greater use of proven, low carbon solutions including energy efficiency, electrification and biogas to achieve emissions reduction. There may also be a role for gas-fired electricity generation to support our increasing use of renewable energy during the transition to net zero.
  • The government can continue to support further development and demonstration of emerging technologies including low emissions hydrogen, biomethane and carbon capture and storage until their viability at scale is known.
  • Reducing Victoria’s overall gas demand, especially in the household and commercial sectors where it is mostly used for heating, can reserve supplies for critical industrial purposes such as chemicals manufacturing.
  • Future infrastructure and network investment decisions can be tested for compatibility with pathways to net zero. For example, expanding existing gas networks to new residential and commercial developments may embed future emissions and could mean a larger potentially underused or stranded asset.
  • Meeting the state’s emissions targets will be challenging. The Victorian Government has a crucial role to play in enabling the transformation by providing clear market signals, creating incentives to reduce, replace or decarbonise gas, and aligning its own policies and regulations with interim and 30-year emissions reduction targets.

Mr Masson said the road to net zero, regardless of how it happens, is a critical opportunity for the state that will affect most Victorian households, businesses and industries.

Rai Miralles, Climate and Energy Analyst at Environment Victoria, said, “While the Morrison government has been doubling-down on gas infrastructure, Victoria is putting some serious effort into exploring how to get off gas to cut emissions to zero by 2050.

“It’s encouraging to see this Infrastructure Victoria report flagging that the Victorian government should remove policies which support the expansion of the gas network.

“None of the scenarios considered show a long-term future for the existing gas network. Gas infrastructure is a dead end.

“However, Environment Victoria is calling on the Andrews government to go further than what’s in this report. We think the government should require all new buildings to be all-electric, which has been proven to save households on heating bills and to cut emissions.

“One scenario in the report relies on large-scale production of hydrogen from brown coal paired with carbon capture and storage (CCS). 

“But CCS has overpromised and underdelivered for decades and the growing awareness of the rehabilitation challenges in Latrobe Valley coal mines means that continuing to dig up brown coal is creating more problems than it solves.

“Considering the urgent need to cut emissions, the best way forward is to reduce household gas demand so that industries that can’t easily switch to electric alternatives have enough gas supply during the transition.”

The advice will inform the Victorian Government’s Gas Substitution Roadmap and complement current work by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) on energy sector and industry transition issues.

Written submissions are also being sought by DELWP on the gas substitution roadmap. As Infrastructure Victoria’s advice will inform the development of the roadmap, Victorians are encouraged to make submissions to both projects so that the evidence and information provided can be considered in a timely way.

Infrastructure Victoria is now seeking feedback on the evidence set out in this report and potential actions identified.

To make a submission or respond to the feedback prompts in the submission template, visit the Engage Victoria website.

Opportunities to provide a submission close 5pm, Monday 16 August 2021.

Infrastructure Victoria will provide its final advice to government on the best pathways for gas infrastructure by 2050 by December 31, 2021.

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