Spotlight Activity: Lack of Government Support Hampers the Use of Australia’s Vast Renewable Energy Resources
Currently, renewable energy makes up about 23% of Australia’s electricity generation. This is ahead of schedule: the Renewable Energy Target (RET) legislated back in 2001 mandates that 20% of Australia’s electricity needs to come from renewable sources by 2020. There is also a wealth of renewable energy generation in the project pipeline: academics and industry insiders seem to be in general consensus that Australia has more than enough renewable energy planned to reach 50% capacity in the mid 2020’s, pushing up towards 100% sometime after 2030. There are even mega-renewable projects planned in the country’s north that could see Australia become a renewable energy exporter to South East Asia. And Australia’s green hydrogen industry is in its fledgling stages, with massive export possibilities. Australia also has some of the highest potential solar & pumped hydro resources in the world, which have barely been tapped.
Status: Falling Behind
So what’s the problem? With a decade of governance by the conservative Liberal/National coalition has come a systematic undermining of the renewables industry in Australia. The RET will not be renewed (leaving Australia with zero renewable energy policy from 2021), successive Coalition energy ministers have worked to support the coal industry at the expense of renewables, state government efforts to set ambitious renewable targets have been undermined at a federal level, and Coalition MPs have by-and-large been vocal critics of renewable energy, with national media outlets uncritically carrying anti-renewable stories.
Renewable energy is widely supported by the Australian public. Exciting developments in renewable technologies, the amazing reliability and capacity upgrades wind and solar power are experiencing, the possibility of Australia becoming a >100% renewables country & the extremely poor performance of Australia’s fossil fuel power generators rarely come up in public discourse. All these factors add up to an environment where investment in renewable energy is significant but uncoordinated. In the absence of any national roadmap or government signals that an energy transition will be supported, companies are left to go their own way. As Australia’s ageing coal power fleet nears the end of its lifespan there is no concrete plan for what will replace the retiring stations: renewable energy is ready and waiting, but will not replace coal without government support.
Dear Mr Taylor,
As Minister for Energy and Emissions Reductions, it is incumbent on you to face up to the realities of electricity generation in Australia and look to plot a way forward. Your new role as Emission Reductions head also calls for you to help decarbonise – or at least reduce the carbon intensity of – the power sector. Given these ministerial responsibilities and the amazing opportunities Australia has to revolutionise its power sector, we find the behavior of your government quite perplexing.
Australia’s renewable energy pipeline is massive, with some of the biggest possibilities in Queensland and the Northern Territory: two areas that are crying out for well-paying careers and training opportunities. Total Household PV will shortly become one of the biggest energy generators in the country, and Australia even stands the chance to become a renewable energy exporter to South East Asia. We ask that you and your party kindly move on from the obsession with coal (and recently nuclear – an industry that has zero long-term prospects in Australia) and look to the future, which has bright possibilities. A good start will be reviewing and upgrading the Renewable Energy Target when it expires in 2020. Setting a new bar will not be hard: there is enough renewable energy in the pipeline to push Australia from about 20% renewables now to at least 50% by 2030. What a golden opportunity!
Send Action Alert Message to:
Honorable Angus Taylor MP
Minister for Energy & Energy Reductions
18 Hill Street Camden
Camden NSW 2570
Telephone: +612 4658 7188