MARK BUTLER. Coalition exposes its ignorance in anti-renewable stance (The Big Smoke, 21.09.18)

On Tuesday during Parliamentary Question Time, new Energy Minister Angus Taylor announced: “the (RET) target reaches a peak in 2020 and we will not be replacing that with anything.”

This is no surprise coming from the anti-renewables, anti-climate science minister who, in his first speech as the minister in charge of energy, said he would not “even try” to end the investor uncertainty which lies at the heart of the country’s energy crisis.

The Minister has absolved himself of any responsibility to reach a bipartisan framework on energy policy.

His insistence that energy policy should ignore the need to transition to clean energy, and that government has no role in supporting investor certainty, flies in the face of every report delivered to the Government over recent years – including from the Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel.

This is on the back of a Financial Review oped by Mr Taylor, also published on Tuesday, where he claimed that “emissions reductions are the least of our problems.”

Let’s not forget Mr Taylor is an anti-wind energy campaigner, joining Alan Jones as the poster boy for the “national wind power fraud rally”, and his 2014 speech in Parliament, which said climate change “has little basis on fact and everything to do with blind faith.”

Australians and the energy industry should be rightly outraged by Mr Taylor absolving himself from any responsibility to deliver climate and energy policy. It’s actually his job.

It’s no wonder Oliver Yates, a Victorian Liberal Party veteran and former head of the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation, has called Mr Taylor’s stance “economically irrational” and “mad”, while former Liberal Leader John Hewson has said it is “a big failing.”

The peak organisation for the energy industry, the Australian Energy Council, has also reiterated the importance of government implementing an energy policy that recognises the need to decarbonise our energy system and provide investment certainty for industry.

AEC Chief Executive Sarah McNamara saying: “a lack of robust or bipartisan energy policy means there is a lack of investment confidence, which means there is more risk to be managed, and this in turn leads to higher prices.”

But even in the face of pleading from industry and experts alike, Mr Taylor will continue to deny basic obvious facts.

The “Minister for lowering power prices” refuses to acknowledge or address why power prices are as high as they are in the first place.

This is a disaster for Australian households and business that have been struggling under skyrocketing power prices because of the Liberals’ energy and climate policy paralysis.

Labor understands it is the role of government to support investment, especially in an essential public service like power.

We understand that bipartisan policy is the best way to deliver that certainty, but we also understand that is impossible as long as the Liberal party is dominated by those who see renewable energy as a threat to be stopped rather than an inevitable and welcome future.

Energy policy has become so beholden to the hard-right in the Liberal party that Australia’s Energy Minister’s views on the economics and engineering of renewable energy fly directly in the face of all expert and industry advice – including the Government’s own Energy Security Board, who have said:

“The cost of running a clean-coal plant is much more expensive that running a combination of wind, solar and gas, or, better yet, wind, solar and pumped hydro.”

Since the 2016 election Labor has been committed to our targets that will bring down power prices and pollution while we manage the transition of our energy sector.

Report after report validates our targets of 50% renewable energy, 45% emissions reduction by 2030 (on 2005 levels) and net zero emissions by 2050.

The latest Frontier Economics research, commissioned by ACOSS, shows with Labor’s 45% emissions reduction target driving investment in renewables, average power bills will fall by an average of 18.3% by 2030.

And recent Reputex modelling shows wholesale power prices by 2030 will be 25% higher without a 45% target.

Mr Taylor and his Government might not accept a modern, low pollution, renewable energy future, but Labor, industry and the Australian community do. And it will be those who support a managed and just transition to the future who will be on the right side of history, not those who fight against the inevitable.

This piece was first published in The Big Smoke on Friday, 21 September, 2018: http://thebigsmoke.com.au/2018/09/21/in-removing-their-renewable-energey-target-the-coalition-exposes-their-ignorance/

Mark Butler is Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy

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One Response to MARK BUTLER. Coalition exposes its ignorance in anti-renewable stance (The Big Smoke, 21.09.18)

  1. Peter Farley says:

    Surprisingly, even though I am very keen on the transition, I don’t see the government’s lack of policy as a big problem. According to the Clean Energy Regulators August assessment there was 3,000 MW of new renewables connected to the grid since Jan 1 2016. Some of these plants still have not reached full production but by the time they do over the next few months, the grid will be running at about 25% renewable including rooftop solar and hydro.

    In addition there is a further 5,000 MW in round figures committed. Because the new wind farms have high capacity factors and most of the new solar farms are tracking types. this 5,000 MW will generate about 17 ,000 GWh. That will take the renewable total to 33-35% of NEM supply.

    However as far as I can tell the Committed figures do not include the 928MW recently awarded by Victoria, the 1,000 MW that Alinta is calling for expressions of interest, the 140 MW solar farm that Adani is building in SA, the 280 MW solar farm that Simec Zen is building in SA, the 800 MW of solar and wind that Snowy Hydro is seeking bids for , the 140 MW Solar Reserve plant in SA nor about 900 MW of other plants which the CER lists as probable, some of which have since received PPAs, Thus at the current rate by 2022-23 there will be another 4,000 MW of large scale plants on line which will add a further 13,000 GWh taking renewables to 41% of generation.

    All this assumes that economic growth entirely offsets increases in behind the meter solar production and energy efficiency. While this has been the case for the last couple of years, the longer term trend is down and the recent trend for behind the meter solar is up quite dramatically so it is quite likely that wholesale demand will fall by about 3-5% by 2023. In that case and particularly if one or two of the less certain solar and wind projects come to fruition, 45% renewables is doable by 2025 without any action by the federal government.

    In a strange way, lack of action by the federal government will force companies to follow Mars, CUB, Telstra, Bluescope etc and set up PPAs directly and may in fact speed up the transition

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