Unpacking the Finkel Review

On Friday, Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, released the findings of a review into the future of the National Electricity Market.

Image: Climate CouncilImage: Climate Council

The Finkel Review was tasked with developing a “blueprint” for the national electricity market (NEM) that:

  • delivers on Australia’s emissions reduction commitments
  • provides affordable electricity, and
  • ensures a high level of security and reliability.

It's a hefty 212 page document so we've put together an explainer to help explain the content.


The Finkel Review is an opportunity for politicians, regulators and industry to deliver for much needed certainty for climate and energy policy in Australia.

However, there are a number of concerns relating to how the Finkel Review addresses climate change and renewable energy:

  • The 28% minimum emissions reduction for the electricity sector is far too weak even to meet the Federal Government’s 2030 targets
  • Power generated by renewable energy in 2030 under the proposed Clean Energy Target – at 42% - is far too low.
  • Gas and coal with carbon capture and storage are polluting and should not qualify under a Clean Energy Target.
  • Requirements on new generation should be technology neutral, not act as a restriction on wind and solar development.
  • Australia needs to phase out coal, quickly. The Finkel Review does not place any requirement on coal plants to close (other than recommending a three-year notice of closure for generators).
  • Gas is polluting. The Review claims “gas contributes to emissions reduction”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Finkel Review report is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to reduce the emissions of Australia’s biggest polluter - the electricity sector - by ramping up renewables and energy storage uptake and making energy efficiency improvements.

Australians are crying out for a strong, clear direction from government. The review is an orange rather than green light for a renewable powered future.

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