Moorabool Environment Group supports new wind farms, clean energy

Moorabool shire, located between Ballarat and Melton, can look forward to more clean energy as new wind farms step closer to construction, Moorabool Environment Group president Ben Courtice explains. Wind farm developer WestWind Energy are seeking to update a 2009 … Continue reading Moorabool Environment Group supports new wind farms, clean energy

SA renewables frame-up covers for fossil fuels electricity prices heist

Hysterical anti-renewable headlines aren’t necessarily a surprise from The Australian and other News Ltd publications. But the cynicism of the attack on South Australia’s renewable energy industry in their pages is still astonishing. The Australian on July 25 published Matthew … Continue reading SA renewables frame-up covers for fossil fuels electricity prices heist

RET Watch: Australia takes one step backward with RET deal…

A deal to reduce the Renewable Energy Target 20% appears to have been struck by the Federal government and opposition, with cross-bench Senators. The reduction from 41000 gigawatt-hours in 2020, to only 33000GWh, will unfortunately include wood-waste burners as eligible … Continue reading RET Watch: Australia takes one step backward with RET deal…

Hiding from the truth about 100% renewable energy

The French government has joined the Australian government in ignoring their own reports that say a transition to 100% renewable energy is feasible and involves little extra cost.

Mediapart obtained a report from the French government’s own environment and energy agency body ADEME that showed to use 100% renewable energy by 2050 is materially and technologically feasible and would cost relatively little more than the current electricity supply which is 75% nuclear.

Yet the government is holding a conference with the theme “40% of renewable electricity by 2050: is France ready?” A presentation on 100% renewables was mysteriously removed from the agenda at the last minute, but Mediapart obtained a copy of the study.

Flamanville 3 nuclear reactor under construction

Image (EDF): The Flamanville 3 nuclear reactor was estimated before construction to cost 3.3 billion Euros, but by its intended completion date in 2012, this had blown out to 8.5 billion Euros, with the completion date pushed back to 2016.

The study finds that President Francois Hollande’s target of reducing nuclear from 75% to 50% by 2050 would only be slightly cheaper for consumers than their 100% renewable scenario, sinking claims by pro-nuclear advocates that their favourite tech is the cheapest.

Some people just don’t want to hear the good news. Does this sound familiar?

Continue reading “Hiding from the truth about 100% renewable energy”

Is a Labor compromise on reduction of the Renewable Energy Target acceptable?

Big Energy hates the Renewable Energy Target because it is seeing renewables take a growing slice of their shrinking pie. Yes2Renewables activist Ben Courtice explains.

We keep hearing news of ongoing negotiations (or almost negotiations) between the Federal Coalition and Labor over a compromise agreement on reducing the Renewable Energy Target. What’s at stake?

Currently, the latest offer from the Coalition is to reduce the target (from 41,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy by 2020), to 31,000 gigawatt-hours (they had previously said 26,000 would be their preferred figure).

Labor, who have said they will take direction from the renewable energy industry, are so far holding out for a figure in “the mid to high 30s”, supported by the Clean Energy Council until they caved and made a more desperate sounding offer of 33,500 (rejected by the Coalition, regardless).

Bill Shorten and Mark Butler (image: ABC)
Bill Shorten and Mark Butler (image: ABC)

The ongoing uncertainty over the future of the target means that there is pretty much zero investment happening, banks won’t loan money for renewable projects, because no-one knows what the future will bring.

Unfortunately, if Labor do negotiate a reduced target with the Coalition, we could be in the position where a significant reduction in the target will be painted as a victory by many in the industry — because it gets the finance and construction of projects happening in the short term.

This is despite the fact that the existing, 41,000 gigawatt-hour target could still be met by new wind farms before 2020, with no reduction needed. Continue reading “Is a Labor compromise on reduction of the Renewable Energy Target acceptable?”

Cook Islands heading for 100% renewable electricity

A small and remote Pacific nation, with a population less than many Australian country towns, is striving to go 100% renewable energy by 2020 using “Te Mana o te Ra” or “the power from the sun”, as it’s largest project so far is called.

wind turbine behind Muri beach, on Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Micro wind turbine behind Muri beach, on Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Photo: Ben Courtice

Continue reading “Cook Islands heading for 100% renewable electricity”

Waubra wind farm

Who killed the Renewable Energy Target?

It’s not actually dead. But…

Ben Courtice, Yes 2 Renewables volunteer, wrote the following for Green Left Weekly:

With news that the unlikely climate conscience of the Palmer United Party is holding firm, it appears that the Renewable Energy Target and some associated Federal programs will not be abolished yet. But manufactured uncertainty may yet be enough to bring large-scale wind and solar projects to a standstill.

The Abbott government came to power with a promise to kill Australia’s climate policies, and its actions to date show this is one of their priorities. They have achieved their explicit aim – to repeal the carbon price – and are following up with attacks on the other climate and renewable energy programs.

Even if they fail to pass all the required legislation to remove all these, the climate of regulatory uncertainty may be enough to stop investment. If the renewable energy industry isn’t killed, it may end up languishing on life support.

Waubra wind farm
Wind and fog at Waubra — Ben Courtice

Continue reading “Who killed the Renewable Energy Target?”

Electricity should be a public matter

The following article by Ben Courtice was first published at New Matilda

iStock_000006695897Small_cSHetwWESt_lMarkets are neither free nor efficient, and they are bad for the environment. While that may sound like a timeless left-wing credo, it’s also a simple assessment of 20 years of privatisation and market-oriented restructuring of Australia’s electricity industry.

It has become an unquestioned and unspoken assumption that the industry should be run according to market principles. As we head towards an emissions trading scheme, reducing the industry’s greenhouse emissions is also seen as fundamentally a matter of market mechanisms.

But privatisation and imposed market mechanisms have already been a key barrier to reducing emissions — not to mention rising costs associated with payouts to some of the country’s biggest polluters.

A recent study commissioned by Environment Victoria shows that under the package of measures accompanying the carbon price, Australia’s dirtiest power stations will be gifted with a windfall of between $2.3 and $5.4 billion.

This outcome appears perverse and corrupt. Yet the industry’s representative body claims it is fair and just. As The Age reported in February, “Chief executive of the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Matthew Warren, said carbon compensation was chiefly put in place to compensate for a reduction in the asset value of power stations as a result of the Emissions Trading Scheme”.

If this precedent is followed, what will happen when climate action mandates the ending of coal mining? Coal companies, like mining companies worldwide, are counting the value of as yet unmined resources on their bottom line. Will the public purse be required to compensate coal barons for every dragline-bucket of coal that they do not mine and export? Continue reading “Electricity should be a public matter”