Energy industry leaders, including Energy Security Board Chair Dr Kerry Schott, have come together to voice their support for the role natural gas will play as Australia transitions to a clean energy future.

Over 100 business leaders and industry decision makers have come together in Brisbane to participate in the Evolving the conversation: Australia’s energy future event, which looked at the growth of renewable energy in Australia.

Dr Kerry Schott was joined by Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham, to lead a discussion on how to ensure the sustainable growth of renewable energy and the role industry must play in helping to shape national energy policy.

The event was hosted by the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise and Brighter, an initiative of APPEA, to bring together 100 business leaders to examine the parallel development of the onshore gas and renewable energy industries.

Dr Schott and Dr Lynham were joined by APPEA Chief Executive, Andrew McConville, Director of UQ Centre for Natural Gas Professor, Andrew Garnett, and EDL Energy Head of Corporate Affairs, Lisa France.

With a backdrop of debate on how to achieve a reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy mix, Dr Schott said the right solution could not be one-dimensional. She believes gas has a role to play in Australia’s energy mix for the foreseeable decades, in backing up intermittent renewable energy.

“Gas is quite critical and will be critical for at least the next 20-30 years,” Dr Schott said.

“Coal runs as a baseload source, but it is difficult to ramp up and down. Gas plants are, and will be, absolutely critical because they can be started quickly. And using a source like batteries as a backup can help to keep the power on long enough to get the gas plants fired up.”

Dr Schott praised Queensland for leading the nation in its coordination and balance of renewable, pumped hydro and baseload energy sources.

“Queensland is focused on the security needs of the whole system.”

Dr Lynham believes natural gas is aiding the drive toward a renewable energy future in Queensland.

“Here in Queensland we developed an unprecedented $70 billion onshore gas industry in eight years. Queensland’s gas exports are also helping to drive our economy with export sales of $15.4 billion in the year to July 2019,” Dr Lynham said.

“Importantly, if we return to the ‘evolving the conversation’ theme – gas is critical to the transition to renewables.”

Mr McConville said that too often the conversation on Australia’s future energy mix descends into a binary argument pitting fossil fuels and renewables against each other, rather than seeing the benefit of a holistic path forward. Mr McConville said this is leading to consumer confusion about an over-complicated energy system.

“Research from Brighter shows that there’s a disconnect amongst people – they are not making the connection between how they heat their water or cook their food, and where that energy comes from,” Mr McConville said.

“The actual argument is complex, and it is not easy to explain how it gels together, so we need to do more to connect and talk to people about how they power their homes today and into the future.”

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