While families have never paid more for electricity, hardly a week goes by without an expert warning Australia’s electricity supply is in danger.

Our rolling energy crisis took another concerning turn this week as the head of Energy Australia, Mark Collette, warned that the reliability of the east coast electricity network is “precarious” ahead of looming peak winter demand.

And experts today warned we have years of electricity price misery ahead as the unrealistic transition to renewables with no firmed power continues.

In a country with an abundance of coal, gas, and uranium it is hard to believe this could be happening.

Recent closures of fossil fuel power plants, including AGL Energy's Liddell coal-fired plant, have left the national electricity system vulnerable, despite efforts by generators to expedite maintenance and avoid outages similar to those experienced in June 2022 where Sydneysiders were told not to use their dishwashers and other household appliances for fear of blackouts.

The crisis has been caused by successive Liberal and Labor governments believing there was an immanent “climate catastrophe” closing coal-fired power stations without providing replacement electricity.

Taxpayer-subsidised windmills and solar panels cannot provide base-load electricity, making the power grid unstable.

Family First believes there should be a moratorium on closing coal-fired power stations until a proper economic and engineering scoping study of the alternatives, including nuclear, has been completed.

Family First agrees with former Howard era Treasurer Peter Costello who recently told John Anderson’s Conversations podcast:

“I was in that school that always used to say, let's figure out how we can do something before we announce we're gonna do it. These days you just announce you're gonna do it and you got no idea.”

Collette voiced his concerns at a climate business summit in Sydney, emphasizing that the available dispatchable capacity is now lower than last year after the closure of Liddell.

He highlighted the risk of outages or supply shocks, which would be keenly felt due to the reduced capacity.

This situation follows the outages suffered by coal power stations last winter, which forced generators to rely on gas to prevent blackouts, resulting in higher household power bills.

Australia heavily relies on coal, which accounts for about two-thirds of its electricity generation.

However, its role has diminished in recent years due to mounting economic and social pressures on fossil fuels driven by the “climate catastrophe” narrative.

While the closure of coal power plants aligns with the country's carbon emission targets pushed by the Labor, Liberal, Green and Teal climate consensus, industry executives, including Collette, have expressed concerns about the inadequate replacement of these plants with zero-emission sources.

The rapid transition to renewables has not kept pace with the closures, risking Australia's energy security.

The necessary replacement infrastructure has yet to be invented, leaving a gap in the system. The closure of coal power stations without a proper backup of baseload power has become a pressing issue.

The consequences of the energy crisis are reflected in rising wholesale electricity prices, which will significantly impact price levels in 2024.

The Australian Energy Regulator recently approved a 25% increase in electricity bills for households and businesses across the east coast, mainly driven by the increased cost of generating electricity during winter 2022.

While progress has been made in increasing renewable energy generation capacity, such as solar and wind, industry executives argue that Australia lags in developing storage solutions like large-scale batteries and pumped hydro.

Collette acknowledged the increased investment in batteries but highlighted the systemic differences between coal and batteries. A coal power station can store a month or two of fuel, whereas a battery can only provide two to four hours of power.

The reliance on renewables becomes problematic during periods of low wind or sunlight, as seen in May.

To address these challenges, the Australian government-backed Clean Energy Finance Corporation estimates that over $120 billion in investment is needed by 2030 for solar, wind, transmission, and energy storage projects.

The Albanese Government’s Energy Minister Chris Bowen has admitted Australia needs to build 22,000 solar panels a day, 480 huge wind turbines a year and 28,000kms of poles and wires so that Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions can drop 43 per cent by 2030 and hit net-zero by 2050.

This means coal will go from supplying 60 per cent-plus of our power needs to under 10 per cent within eight years.

Clearly, this build is impossible and probably won’t be achieved.

The cost, which will continue to show up on families’ electricity bills is eyewatering and blackouts will be inevitable.

At a forum in October last year, featuring chief executives from the country's top electricity companies, Alinta CEO Jeff Dimery warned power prices would rise by 35 per cent next year, pointing out it would take an $8 billion investment in renewables to replace $1billion worth of fossil fuel capacity.

Making matters worse is that battery storage capable of powering a modern city for more than a couple of hours has not been invented.