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).
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.
The Coalition’s attempt to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is a blind political move that has more justification through rhetoric than rationality. The role of the CEFC is one that will continue to grow, as traditional financial institutions often disenfranchise those wishing to be financed for green projects.
This week, the Australian Senate is considering the government’s package of “carbon tax” abolition bills – bills abolishing the carbon tax, the Climate Change Authority (CCA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
The Senate’s first move was to hold hearings on the abolition of the CCA and CEFC, and to split them off from the rest of proposed legislation. This was a first victory for a combined Greens and Labor vote in the Senate, signalling that the new Abbott government will not have an easy task in dismantling these structures.
The Greens have continued their national leadership on energy policy by announcing a Clean Energy Roadmap to get Australia to 100 percent renewables. The intervention is an attempt to spark a debate about energy policy in the lead up to the looming federal election.
In an opinion article published by RenewEconomy, Greens leader Senator Christine Milne makes the case for a national roadmap. Milne cites studies by the Australian Energy Market Operator and University of New South Wales which find it economically and feasible for the national grid to be powered entirely by renewable energy. Senator Milne makes her case:
“The cheapest way to decarbonise the electricity sector is to plan the transition early and build the right energy infrastructure in the right place at the right time. To avoid wasting time and money on investments that don’t adequately address climate change, we need a roadmap.”