The Turnbull government may be moving to shore up gas supplies for the electricity market but industry players say it might not actually be needed.
For many years gas has been talked about as the transition fuel, filling the gap as generation moves from coal-fired power to renewables before the price tag of the latter drops.
Australian Energy Market Operator market development specialist Ben Skinner says a decade ago, everyone thought high-emitting coal plants would be turned off in favour of more efficient and cleaner gas generators.
That view has now changed.
"It just looks as if as a way of producing low-emissions energy, that (gas plants) have been beaten out, basically, because of the changes in the gas industry combined with tremendous changes to technology costs with renewables," he told a Carbon Market Institute conference in Melbourne on Tuesday.
At the same time, one of the heads of major energy company AGL was telling a conference in Sydney the shift away from coal would bypass "baseload" gas completely, Renew Economy reported.
"The energy transition we have all been anticipating will skip 'big baseload gas' as a major component of the (national electricity market) NEM's base-load generation and instead largely be a case of moving from 'big coal' to 'big renewables'," AGL chief financial officer Brett Redman said.
Nevertheless, gas would still play a significant role in the electricity industry, albeit different to what most imagined, both said.
Mr Skinner said it was the most important resource Australia had in terms of offering flexible "peaking power" capacity that could fill gaps as needed in a system with a lot of variable supply, such as that from wind and solar.
"People talk about maybe batteries can fill that role, and maybe in the future they can, but at the moment they're quite a bit more expensive and also they don't necessarily have the same system security services you can get out of gas-fired generation," he said.
"We believe that at least in the relatively short- to medium- term that anything the governments can do to assist the development of gas-fired peaking plants is very beneficial for the decarbonisation of the system."