Is gas a cheaper alternative to coal?

Senator Bob Brown has called into question the government's belief that gas is a viable substitute to coal for electricity generation.

The comments come after Greens senator Christine Milne criticised the potential for coal-seam gas to lead to lower emissions.

Australia has reserves of natural gas in Western Australia as well as access via coal seams in the country's east.

Despite the 30 per cent lower rate of carbon production, some commentators have doubted the levels of efficiency compared to coal and are concerned that production will not be able to meet demand.

There is also the potential for gas prices to increase as they fall in line with international levels.

If a stable and viable alternative is not found to replace electricity generation from coal, the scattered market mix of solar, wind and gas may cause further price hikes.

Queensland has already passed legislation to secure a stake in natural gas that will be produced by its new coal seam plants - a clear indication that demand is a concern for the state.

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