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Australia Seen Needing Gas Investments to Shore Up Renewables

(Bloomberg) -- Australia, one of the biggest exporters of natural gas, “urgently” needs investment to avoid shortfalls in some of its most populous regions from 2025 and to support increasing renewable energy, according to the grid operator.

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The southern states, which contain about two-thirds of the population, could see shortages in extreme winter conditions from next year and small seasonal supply gaps from 2026, the Australian Energy Market Operator said in its annual Gas Statement of Opportunities report. The northern regions — which mainly produce natural gas for export to Asia — will also need investment from 2026 to meet demand.

Industry groups have called on the government to release new acreage for petroleum exploration to allow the nation to maintain its A$92 billion ($61 billion) natural gas export industry. Australia will also need gas for domestic electricity generation as it retires the coal-fired power plants that for decades formed the backbone of its grid and seeks to meet a target for 82% renewable generation by 2030.

“Flexible gas-powered electricity generation is an essential component of the energy mix into the future,” AEMO Chief Executive Officer Daniel Westerman said. “Gas, along with batteries and pumped hydro, will enable higher rates of renewables and support electricity reliability as Australia’s coal-fired power stations retire.”

--With assistance from Carmeli Argana.

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