RET Watch: Abbott review puts ideology ahead of good policy

4911026-3x2-940x627The Abbott government’s Renewable Energy Target review, announced on February 17, shows once again that this government puts ideology ahead of good policy.

The appointment of climate change denier Dick Warburton to head the review panel is a troubling sign for the Australian renewable energy sector.

Panel member Shirley In’t Veld is former Managing Director of Verve Energy who are primarily a fossil fuel generating business–98.3 per cent their generation assets are from fossil fuels and just 1.3 per cent from renewables (source).

The announcement had Yes 2 Renewables wondering: Where are the panel members from the wind or solar energy sectors? Continue reading “RET Watch: Abbott review puts ideology ahead of good policy”

Election aftermath: Full speed in reverse

camBy Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth’s campaigns coordinator explores Australia’s new political landscape in an article published by Chain Reaction – Friends of the Earth’s national magazine. Find other thought-provoking articles and support Friends of the Earth by subscribing to Chain Reaction.

The following is a brief assessment of possible trajectories in environmental politics under the federal Coalition government, specific areas where the Coalition can be expected to act, and a summary of some of the key players in the new political landscape.

The first Tea Party government?

John Howard was never an advocate for climate action. Yet we face something different in Tony Abbott. A lot of water has passed under the bridge of conservative politics since Howard’s days. If we want to see what an Abbott government might mean for the environment, we would be well advised to look to the US, where a highly ideological Tea Party movement continues to drive government agendas. Think Sarah Palin, not John Howard.

It seems clear that this government will start to dismantle 40 years of environmental progress and modernisation, as approvals for major projects are passed to the States and Territories. Tony Abbott calls this cutting ‘green tape’. In the real world this means more coal mines, more gas rigs, and more port facilities on the Great Barrier Reef.

453380-1f4faa60-3e22-11e3-9bcd-10262b6f8853Mr Abbott has long said that his first actions as PM will include the dismantling of the carbon price. What is surprising is the speed at which he is enacting his agenda. There are a considerable number of senior Coalition MPs with profound dislike of all things green. This may manifest as vindictive actions, like the expected lock out of environmental NGOs from government access.

This Tea Party approach is a strategic error. Playing to the climate sceptics and anti-greens will not win fans amongst soft green Liberal voters. It also runs the risk of alienating sections of the business community. For example, if Mr Abbott shuts down the wind industry, he is depriving farmers of reliable income and removing jobs from regional Australia. In short, if this government goes hard against everything green, it will damage the economy at the same time.

When we look at the Coalition’s recent record, we can see they have been forced to keep the facade that they will take action on climate, yet the Direct Action Plan will deliver very little in terms of emissions reduction. It is little more than a slush fund for farmers and the tree plantings by his Green Army will not be a panacea for our rising greenhouse emissions. The anti science agenda suggests that the Coalition is not controlled by economic rationalists any more, because of the evidence that it is willing to protect fossil fuels and mining at any cost. Continue reading “Election aftermath: Full speed in reverse”

PollieWatch: Angus Taylor runs with the wind

1467421_372908476178033_1550328719_nAt the weekend, Infigen Energy hosted its second annual Run With The Wind event at the Woodlawn wind farm. This year’s fun run around the 23 wind turbines near Bungendore, New South Wales attracted 600 participants–including the Liberal Member for Hume, Angus Taylor.

Angus Taylor’s participation in the event is somewhat of a surprise given his track record of bagging wind energy.

Taylor is the poster child of the clandestine anti-wind farm site Stop These Things. The site’s anonymous bloggers laud Taylor for his wind bashing. They describe the member for Hume this way:

Angus “the Enforcer” Taylor has just slammed his pro-wind power opponents to pick up the seat of Hume in NSW. Angus takes up where the “faultless former Member for Hume”, Alby Schultz left off. Continue reading “PollieWatch: Angus Taylor runs with the wind”

Pollie Watch: PM Abbott’s first comments on wind farms, Renewable Energy Target

481239-pn-news-tony-abbottTony Abbott has made his first comments on wind energy and the Renewable Energy Target as Prime Minister. During an interview with Alan Jones (2GB) PM Abbott had the following to say:

“If you drive down the Federal Highway from Goulburn to Canberra and you look at Lake George, yes there’s an absolute forest of these things on the other side of the lake near Bungendore. I absolutely understand why people are anxious about these things that are sprouting like mushrooms all over the fields of our country. I absolutely understand the concerns that people have.

“And I also understand the difficulty because while renewable power is a very good idea at one level, you’ve gotta have backups because when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, the power doesn’t flow. So this is an obvious problem with renewable energy in the absence of much more sophisticated battery technology than we have right now.

“We are going to review the Renewable Energy Targets. There was going to be a review anyway next year. We’re taking this review very seriously and one of the things that we’ll be looking at will be the impact of renewable energy on power prices, because not only is the carbon tax adding about 9 per cent to everyone’s power bills and we’re going to get rid of that as quickly as we can, renewable energy targets are also significantly driving up power prices right now.”

The Prime Minister cites two common misperceptions about renewables energy: Firstly, that renewables aren’t up for the job of powering the Australian economy because they’re intermittent. And secondly, that the Renewable Energy Target makes up a significant portion of electricity bills.

Let’s break down these misconceptions for the Prime Minister to assist his government’s energy policy making. Continue reading “Pollie Watch: PM Abbott’s first comments on wind farms, Renewable Energy Target”

Pollie Watch: Angus Taylor cites skewed report on wind farms, land values

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Liberal member for Hume, Angus Taylor

The new Liberal member for Hume Angus Taylor has emerged as a staunch critic of wind energy and the national Renewable Energy Target.

Most recently, Taylor pounced on a report by a real estate valuer purporting to show wind farms deflate land value. The Goulburn Post published a letter by the MP on the matter.

Yes 2 Renewables contributor David Clarke send a rejoinder to The Goulburn Post toset the record straight: Continue reading “Pollie Watch: Angus Taylor cites skewed report on wind farms, land values”

Federal govt review could examine health impacts of all generators

By Ketan Joshi, Research and Communications Officer at Infigen Energy. These views are his own.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has wasted no time in excising “waste” from government. While climate programs have borne the brunt of the government’s cuts, one Coalition policy has been left untouched: their promise to conduct a full review into the health impacts of wind farms.

The blades of Australia’s first wind farm began turning 26 years ago, yet the hysteria over claimed wind farm health impacts is recent. The trajectory of how these fringe concerns came to take a central place in policymaking is worth examining. Continue reading “Federal govt review could examine health impacts of all generators”

Victorian govt’s anti-wind farm laws threaten AEMO forecast

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A new Australian Energy Market Operator report forecasts large increase in Victoria’s wind energy capacity by 2020–delivering jobs and investment for regional areas. Unfortunately, the anti-wind farm laws introduced by Ted Baillieu mean the growth is not assured. The laws put the all the benefits of wind farming at risk.

Here’s The Weekly Times with the scoop:

NEW wind energy forecasts by the Australian Energy Market Operator says Victoria’s capacity should lift five-fold by the end of the decade.

In the report, Integrating Renewable Energy – Wind Energy Integration Report, the AEMO forecasts 4090 megawatts of new wind energy capacity in the state by 2020. The increase would lift the state’s installed wind energy capacity from 884MW in 2013 to 4974MW in 2020.
But Friends of the Earth spokesperson Leigh Ewbank said reaching the forecast was not assured.  Continue reading “Victorian govt’s anti-wind farm laws threaten AEMO forecast”

Pollie Watch: Napthine, Hodgett encourage local procurement

1_729wind-620x349Victorian Premier Denis Napthine and manufacturing minister David Hodgett have gone into bat for Victoria’s wind turbine tower makers.

The Premier and minister have called on RES Australia, the proponent of a 223 turbine wind farm at Penshurst, to consider locally-made towers from Portland’s Keppel Prince Engineering.

“One of the things I’m looking to do is contact RES and urge them to look at local production of towers,” Premier Napthine told The Standard. “The wind industry needs the support of the community to have a strong, viable future,” said Dr Napthine. “The best way they can do to encourage community support is to … use local wind towers, they should use local components wherever possible.”

On this issue, Friends of the Earth are in agreement with the Premier. Continue reading “Pollie Watch: Napthine, Hodgett encourage local procurement”

Good news for wind energy!

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Today is a good news day for wind energy in Victoria. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation announced it will provide a $70 million loan to Pacific Hydro to complete the final stage of the Portland Wind Energy Project.

Reporting for the Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Hannam writes:

The $10 billion green investment bank, set to be scrapped by the incoming Coalition government, has issued a loan to Pacific Hydro to build the final stage of its Portland wind farm in what is likely to be among the bank’s final deals.

The project will create hundreds of jobs, increase market competition and provide enough clean energy to power 31,000 homes, according to Pacific Hydro.

The CEFC’s backing of the final stage of the Portland wind energy project is a welcome boost for Victoria’s wind energy sector. It will create jobs in the South West while cleaning up the state’s polluting energy sector. The ambitious Portland Wind Energy Project was approved by the Bracks Labor government and has been over a decade in the making.

Good news stories in the wind energy sector are few and far between since the Baillieu government introduced the world’s most restrictive anti-wind farm laws, which have cost the state jobs, investment, income for farmers and clean energy.  Continue reading “Good news for wind energy!”