As the first developed country to formally reduce its renewable energy target, our Australian Government is against the World on Renewable Energy and Climate Change. With a 22,300-mile coastline, offshore winds and almost perpetual sunshine, Australia should be leading the world in replacing carbon-spewing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.
Illustration: Rocco Fazzari. Courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald – http://www.smh.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-at-odds-with-the-world-on-renewable-energy-and-climate-change-20150612-ghm8ql.html
Instead, we are the first to kill a carbon price and dropped our renewable energy target from 41,000GWh (this would mean renewables would account for more than 27 per cent of total demand) to 33,000GWh by 2020. The only beneficiaries of a reduced target are incumbent coal (gas-fired generators mostly) companies certainly not the consumers who are watching their energy costs rising continually.
Claire O’Rourke, from Solar Citizens, a group representing solar households, said the decision to slash the RET will compromise Australia taking its proper place at the leading edge of the global boom in solar and renewable energy.
To the dismay of the multi-billion-dollar clean-energy sector, and to the mortification of many Australians, Mr Abbott bragged that he had halted the spread of wind farms by slashing the amount of energy to be generated by renewable sources by 2020.
Explaining a compromise which he reached with opposition parties in the Senate last month to cut the target by 20 per cent, he told a right-wing radio host, Alan Jones: “What we did recently in the Senate was reduce, Alan, reduce capital R-E-D-U-C-E, we reduce the number of these things that we are going to get in the future. Now, I would frankly have liked to reduce the number a lot more.” He went on to say that his aim had been to “reduce the growth rate of this particular sector as much as the current Senate would allow us to do”.
The Australian Financial Review, in a front page report, on Monday confirmed the worst fears of the renewable energy industry when it said that the panel had been “instructed” by Tony Abbott to look at ways for the scheme to be folded. Government insiders who have worked on the RET Review have stated the intent of the review has always been to cut the current 41,000GWh target to a maximum of 25,000GWh, and possibly close it to new entrants altogether.
This is shocking news because it will bring to an end a $20 billion industry, cost thousands of jobs, and force household and business bills to soar. It was immediately branded as a “reckless” idea, and as “economic vandalism” by the Clean Energy Council.
The Prime Ministers intentions have long been clear, with principal business advisors including a climate denier and renewables opponent Maurice Newman, and Abbott’s own energy advisor, former AGL executive Sarah McNamara. What makes this even more interesting is a report on behalf of The Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation, and WWF-Australia says that the biggest beneficiaries to dumping the RET would be the fossil fuel generators. The Jacobs report suggested $8 billion in additional profits to coal-fired generators up to 2030 and an extra $2 billion to gas generators.
AGL Energy (presuming it completes the purchase of Macquarie Generation’s 4.6GW of coal generators in NSW) would pocket an extra $2.7 billion, EnergyAustralia would gain an extra $2 billion boost and Origin Energy a $1 billion boost. All three companies have been active in their opposition to the RET, and to subsidies for small-scale solar in particular.
Even Saudi Arabia, the most fossil fuel-dependent nation on the planet has acknowledged that it’s time to wind up the dependency on fossil fuels. The Saudi Oil Minister, Ali al-Naimi, told a conference in Paris last month: “In Saudi Arabia, we recognise that eventually, one of these days, we are not going to need fossil fuels. I don’t know when, in 2040, 2050 or thereafter.” The kingdom of Saudia Arabia planns to become a “global power in solar and wind energy”.
What’s going on in Australia?
State governments (with huge vested interests in state-owned networks and generators) continue to act against renewables. The WA government is canvassing importing coal from Indonesia rather than develop renewable energy projects at home, while in Queensland, businesses have been hit by a whopping $500-a-day service charge (essentially to read the meter) to dissuade them from installing solar.
The large-scale renewable energy industry has already ground to a halt. No new projects have reached financial closure since the election of the Abbott government, and the Abbott government knows that even by doing nothing (apart from allowing continued uncertainty) no new projects will come to market.
Households are also being affected. Through rooftop solar, they have so far contributed more than $12 billion of the $18 billion invested in renewables over recent years, initially driven by generous feed-in tariffs and then as a hedge against rising electricity prices once those tariffs were removed.
It has been proven time and again that the Target would ‘protect’ electricity consumers. Even the Warburton report showed having more solar and renewables in the network would have reduced power costs for all households – whether they have rooftop solar installed or not.
Australians now have the chance to show the world that while the Australian Government may be against the World on Renewable Energy and Climate Change, its citizens certainly are not. Now is your time to confound the policies of this Government: and if they won’t support efforts to cut back on carbon pollution, you can. While the RET is still in place you can save as much as $5,092 on the cost of fitting a residential Solar Power System (savings are dependent upon the size of the system being fitted). Contact us today to learn more!
Businesses are even better off as you benefit from the 2015 Budget incentive for small business with a $20,000 tax write-off for new business equipment. After a capital outlay (immediately written off) your operating costs for that business are permanently lower. Around 80% of Australian businesses operate in daylight hours, meaning all of their electricity can be supplied free from the sun and they are more suitable to gain a bigger benefit from solar power than a residential customer. Even commercial operations operating over a 24 hour period can substantially reduce their energy costs just like residential customers and with battery and energy storage developments continuing at an ever increasing pace the future is definitely “Sunny”.
As a small business, you continue to save money by investing in energy efficiency. This is a great way for ecologically conscious businesses to save money and do their bit (in spite of the Government) to save the planet. Put your $20,000 to work to confound the policies of this Government and lower your own operating costs while increasing your profitability. Best of all if the Government won’t support efforts to cut back carbon pollution, businesses can make those changes themselves, and still get the Government to foot the bill.