Tag Archives: Renewable energy target

What the biffo between Weatherill and Frydenberg really means

“Ten years of brutal, opportunistic politics has left this nation with no credible energy policy.”

The money quote from Jay Weatherill’s outburst was this:

    “Josh Frydenberg was humiliated back in December. We were working with him to introduce an emissions intensity scheme. He knows that. It was well advanced. It was about to happen. Coal interests in the federal Coalition government basically cut him down before he even had a couple of hours explaining it.”

Continue reading What the biffo between Weatherill and Frydenberg really means

Climate clippings 193

1. China drives electric vehicles boom

An AFR article about investors piling into lithium and graphite mining stocks tells a tale. With our focus on Tesla we are missing the story of China.

    Although the Western world’s focus is on Tesla’s progress, it is China’s EV push – it makes up 38 per cent of the global EV fleet, an increase from just 8 per cent in 2012 – that is really turning the dial.

    Argonaut’s Hong Kong-based analyst Helen Lau says the massive subsidies available in the Chinese EV market to curb carbon emissions and lessen that country’s reliance on oil imports make electric cars up to 15 per cent cheaper to buy than conventional, internal combustion ones.

Continue reading Climate clippings 193

Climate clippings 170

1. Arctic ice in trouble

It’s too early to say whether the 2012 record for Arctic summer ice loss will be beaten, but it’s shaping up so that it could. The NSIDC satellite is broken, but robertscribbler has been looking at the Japanese satellite. This is what it shows: Continue reading Climate clippings 170

Climate clippings 148

1. Hansen’s alarming new sea level rise scenario

James Hansen has a 17 author paper out suggesting that we could have multi-metre sea level rise this century. It’s based on the notion that meltwater from the ice sheets interrupts ocean circulation patterns, which then cause a feedback loop via larger storms. I think that’s it in brief. Continue reading Climate clippings 148

Renewables roundup: Daniel Andrews winds up wind

From Facebook:

    Victoria continues to be the country’s best location for renewable energy investment, thanks to planning changes which will streamline wind farm project approvals.

    Applications made for new wind farms under the Andrews Labor Government will now be simpler, encouraging investment and jobs growth in regional areas.

    In Victoria, we currently have 19 wind farms that have planning approval but are yet to be commissioned. Continue reading Renewables roundup: Daniel Andrews winds up wind

RET: the battle lines are drawn

The Renewable Energy target (RET) has been severely scapegoated on electricity prices according to The Australia Institute Facebook:

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The Tea Party LNP Government and Labor have agreed to talk, to find a bipartisan position on the RET. The LNP has now set out what must be an ambit claim:

  • The RET will constitute a so-called “real 20 per cent” of Australia’s electricity production.
  • Emissions from intensives industries, including aluminium, copper, zinc and cement will be exempt.
  • The small-scale solar panel scheme will remain untouched.
  • Biannual reviews of the target will cease.

As background, the RET was legislated in 2009 as 41,000 gigawatt hours, representing 20% of the electricity estimated to be produced in Australia in 2020.

Since then electricity demand has collapsed, meaning the 41,000 gigawatt hour target is now closer to 27%.

This was Bill Shorten’s response:

“The government say they want a real 20 per cent, I call it a fraud 20 per cent, a fake 20 per cent. The truth of the matter is that renewable energy is part of our energy mix. It’s had a great benefit for a whole lot of consumers,” Mr Shorten said.

“We’ve seen thousands of jobs created…and we’ve seen billions of dollars of investment. The real damage that this government’s doing in renewable energy cannot be overstated.”

As John Davidson has been saying repeatedly, the damage is already very evident, as shown in this graph:

bnef-investment-590x308

The renewables industry reaction:

But the renewable energy industry said the target as proposed would devastate the industry and jeopardise millions of dollars in investment.

Lane Crockett, general manager of PacificHydro, said: “What reason can there be [for this cut] other than to protect the coal industry?”

Ironically the LNP position would be seen as something of a win internally for Greg Hunt in the face of the climate scepticism that infects the governing parties.

On the matter of reviews, the LNP have been saying that the Warburton Review was required by legislation. I think the truth is that by law the review should be done by The Climate Authority, which still exists. According to Lenore Taylor at The Guardian:

The Climate Change Authority announced this week it was conducting its own review of the RET before December, as required under law.

I wonder who is paying their bills.

Giles Parkinson points out that The Climate Authority will look at the RET in terms of its contribution to reducing emissions rather than consumer prices. That is novel in the current environment – reviewing the RET in the light of its original purpose!

In that article Christine Milne in estimates hearings chewed out the PMs Department which ran the Warburton review for allowing the review to go beyond its terms of reference and recommending the most expensive options.

The Government is clearly in thrall of the fossil power lobbyists. Giles Parkinson again:

The Abbott government has confirmed that its opening position in talks with the Labor Party is for a “real” 20 per cent target, meaning that the amount of large scale renewable energy being built in Australia over the next 5 years could be cut by two thirds from the current target.

This was one of the key recommendations of the Warburton Review, which made the recommendation despite finding that the cost to consumers would be far less if it left the target at the current level of 41,000GWh by 2020, or made it a 30 per cent target by 2030. (Emphasis added)

Dick Warburton ended up as a very confused puppy. As John Davidson said:

Climate Spectator had this post on Dick Warburton, the Chair of the RET review committee and his performance on a Fran Kelly interview after his review had been released. It gives a picture of a man who doesn’t understand his own report or anything much else apart from the need to recommend the destruction of the RET and all the jobs it has created.

But the LNP are also responding to the popularity of rooftop solar where around “15,000 Australian households add rooftop solar each month, despite the disappearance of state-based feed in tariffs.” After all nine out of 10 households have considered or would consider installing roof-top solar.

Large scale investments are for decades rather than for years. Genuine bipartisanship to a long term commitment is needed. Even if an agreement can be cobbled together in the talks, there is a real question as to whether investors in large scale renewables in Australia will consider it worth the risk.

Australia trashes its renewables industry

Climate Progress has picked up on the story:Australia’s clean energy development plummets below Algeria, Myanmar, Thailand, and Uruguay .

Large scale clean energy development is basically dead in Australia, thanks to the Abbott Government’s negativity and delays. Giles Parkinson says that the Government is effectively trashing the industry:

Bloomberg New Energy Finance data shows that Australia is on track to record its lowest level of asset financing for large-scale renewables since 2002 – as just $193 million was committed in the third quarter of the year. From ranking No 11, in the world in 2013, Australia has fallen behind Algeria and even Myanmar.

This graph tells the story:

bnef-investment-590x308

Australia, which should be one of the world’s leaders in the industry, is seeing its industry collapse. The three biggest Australian investors in renewable energy are in deep trouble.

Industry Funds Management is being forced to write down the value of Pacific Hydro, the largest specialised investor in renewables in the country, by $685 million, according to the Australian Financial Review. This from a business that was to have been floated a year or so ago with a value of more than $2 billion.

Infigen Energy, the largest listed investor in renewables, has said it is facing massive writedowns, and potentially taking dramatic action to protect shareholder funds. It has brought Australian investments to a halt. So has Silex Systems, which has effectively abandoned the solar industry.

International investors have also made clear that their investment in Australia will end soon un less policy stability is restored. These include First Solar, Chinese wind turbine leader Goldwind, and numerous others. The US-based Recurrent Energy has already packed its bags, Spanish based FRV has said its $1.5 billion pipeline is at risk.

Australia’s year-to-date investment of $238 million in large-scale renewables development so far this year compares to Canada’s $3.1 billion.

The world leaders are now China and Japan.

China may add more than 14 gigawatts of solar capacity this year — almost a third of the global total, according to BNEF.

China is fast approaching its goal of installing 35 gigawatts of solar by the end of 2015.

Apparently they believe in picking winners and subsidies, as does Japan:

Japan, the world’s second-largest solar market, increased spending 17 percent to $8.6 billion in the third quarter. Japan has approved about 72,000 megawatts of clean energy projects since the country’s feed-in tariff program started in 2012, with about 96 percent being solar projects.

Meanwhile the LNP have entered into negotiations with Labor on the Renewable Energy Target, presumably having given up on PUP and the cross bench. Labor seems to favour a numerical target similar to the status quo, whereas the LNP favours an actual 20% target, which would be a reduction and disastrous for the industry. Labor seems to be prevailing. There is talk of an exemption for aluminium processing.

We’ll have to wait and see whether what comes out is too little too late, and whether the LNP plays fast and loose with yet another industry sector.

Chair of RET Review Not Looking Good

Climate Spectator had this post on Dick Warburton, the Chair of the RET review committee and his performance on a Fran Kelly interview after his review had been released. It gives a picture of a man who doesn’t understand his own report or anything much else apart from the need to recommend the destruction of the RET and all the jobs it has created. Continue reading Chair of RET Review Not Looking Good

The RET Needs Bipartisanship- Contract Based Alternatives Don’t

Tony Abbott has already killed the Howard government’s RET scheme. No new large scale energy projects directly justified by the RET have been committed to since the start of 2013. In addition, since the Abbott government was elected, the price of large-scale renewable energy certificates had nearly halved to $26.00 per MWh by 11 Aug 14.  To make things worse, the RET is not going to be resurrected by a change of government or action by the Senate.

Continue reading The RET Needs Bipartisanship- Contract Based Alternatives Don’t

Climate clippings 101

A miscellany this week, with an emphasis on Australian policy and opinion.

The main links for each item is in the heading.

1. Kiribati buys land in Fiji

Millenium Island_9459385804_0e30488a67_k1-500

That’s Millenium Island in Kiribati which tops out at six metres above sea level. In parts of Kiribati the sea level is rising by 1.2 cm a year, about four times more than the global average.

Kiribati recently purchased eight square miles of land about 1,200 miles away on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island. The immediate intention relates to food security. They will use the land for agriculture and aquatic farming.

That’s not a lot of land but Kiribati itself comprises just over 100,000 people scattered across 33 low-lying coral atolls totalling about 313 square miles.

The article notes that Kiribati’s reef structure can grow at 10 to 15 mm a year, faster than the IPCC expects sea level to rise, but it is not certain such growth in coral reefs translates to habitable land. My expectation is that later in this century sea level rise will far outstrip any coral growth.

2. Australians unhappy over Coalition’s response to climate challenge

JWS Research on behalf of the Climate Institute found that 70% of Australians accept the mainstream scientific position that climate change is occurring, up 10% since 2012.

while more than half of respondents felt the federal government was the primary body which should address climate change, there was a negative rating of -18 when people were asked to rank the government’s performance.

This compares to a -1 rating from last year.

A mere 20% of those questioned said they are convinced that Tony Abbott is concerned about climate change, with 53% feeling that he isn’t. Nearly a third of people believe opposition leader Bill Shorten is worried about the problem, with around the same proportion of people thinking the reverse is true.

In a further blow to the Coalition, for the first time more people support carbon pricing than oppose it. According to the poll, 34% back the carbon pricing laws, up 6% on 2012. Public opposition to carbon pricing has collapsed by 22% since 2012, when the Coalition was repeatedly attacking the then Labor government over the policy, the poll found.

According to the poll, 47% of people think that carbon pricing is preferable to no climate change policy, with just 22% supporting the government’s alternative Direct Action policy…

3. Shorten vows to ‘re-litigate’ case for carbon pricing

He didn’t expect to have to but he’s prepared to argue the case from first principles. He says:

The real test of political leadership is a willingness to build consensus, to earn agreement, not just to yank the bell at the Downton Abbey political college and expect a servant class of obedient Australians to carry out your will.

Meanwhile confusion reigns in the public mind, so I wish Bill the best of luck. Essential Research found:

Essential report_cropped_600

Support for Direct action is thin and fading in this survey at 9%. Doing nothing rates at 33% (up 3%), nearly matching the total of 38% favouring carbon pricing.

4. Great Barrier Reef tougher than thought

Scientists have put together temperatures from the Great Barrier Reef for the last 20,000 years and found that the reef has survived a range of temperatures.

They found that corals survived a 5°C rise between 20,000 years ago and 13,000 years ago. The reef is more resilient to temperature change than previously thought.

Nevertheless there are a few caveat’s to consider before a general outbreak of optimism,

Dr Helen McGregor, a Research Fellow at the Australian National University and a member of the research team:

“The Great Barrier Reef has coped with temperature changes that have occurred over a few thousand years, but now we are looking at a four degrees Celsius temperature change occurring in 100 to 150 years, so it is much more rapid.”

Then there is the small matter of ocean acidification and other human-caused impacts.

5. Abbott slams green power industry

That was the headline on the front page of the Australian Financial Review on Wednesday. On the front page we read the Abbott spiel:

“The RET is very significantly driving up power prices,” Mr Abbott said.

This, he said. posed a threat to domestic budgets and industry competitiveness, especially energy-intensive industries.

“We should be the affordable energy capital of the world, not the unaffordable energy capital of the world and that’s why the carbon tax must go and that’s why we’re reviewing the RET.”

Then over on page four we read the truth:

ACIL modelling for the Warburton review finds keeping the RET will cut average household power bills by $56 per year by 2021-2030 [sic] and extending it to 30 per cent will save householders $158. Source ACIL Allen

Andrew Richards, head of external affairs at Pacific Hydro, said recently approved gas price rises in NSW will add up to $240 a year to the average household bill. There are bigger fish to fry.

It’s a pity that the AFR can’t tell the truth on the front page – that Tony Abbott is telling porkies again.

Reminder: Use this thread as an open thread on climate change.

Climate sceptic heads RET review

The law says that the Renewable Energy Target (RET) should be reviewed every two years, so a 2014 review is mandatory.

The law also says that the review should be undertaken by the Climate Change Authority (CCA), which still exists courtesy of the senate. The CCA in a draft report on the emissions target suggested the current 5% emissions reduction target was not enough if we are to pull our weight in the world. In the text they appeared to favour a 25% target, but recommended at least 15% pointing out also the an additional 4% could be added courtesy of Kyoto credits.

I believe the RET has been one of the more successful factors in restraining emissions.

Giles Parkinson reported two months ago now that the RET Review will be headed by Dick Warburton, a climate change “denier”. Warburton told RN’s AM program that the science was not settled.

I am not a denier, nor a sceptic actually, of climate change per se. What I am sceptical is the claims that man-made carbon dioxide is the major cause of global warming. I’m not a denier of that, but I am sceptical of that claim.

When asked whether he believed renewable energy had its role to play in Australia’s energy mix Warburton replied:

Yes it does. Renewable energy does have a place to play. The review is asking us to look to see whether it is an efficient and effective way of doing it as we’re doing it at the moment.

warburton_250I understand he did overtly oppose carbon pricing.

In my opinion Warburton is a denier. Given the degree of certainty in the science you either accept the science or deny it. There’s no room left for fence sitting. That being said, Warburton had a fine reputation as a businessman leading Dupont’s Australian operations, was used by the Keating government in industry renewal, has been a member of the Reserve Bank board and has had various company board roles.

It has emerged that Warburton has been the subject of an investigation into his role as a former director of a firm involved in Australia’s worst foreign bribery scandal. I would suggest that Abbott has done his due diligence and found him in the clear.

Both Abbott and Macfarlane have been emphasising their concern over renewables contributing to the cost of electricity. A second panelist is Matt Zema, the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator. As such he was responsible for a study recently

that found 100 per cent renewables would be possible in Australia, and concluded that the cost of electricity would be little different to business as usual, although AEMO declined to do a full cost analysis.

Greg Hunt parrots his boss’s concerns:

“We are a government that is unashamedly doing our best to take pressure off manufacturing and households through anything that can lower electricity prices,” he said in a theme frequently repeated by the conservative government.

If they are concerned about the future cost of electricity they could begin by looking at the policy of privatisation, found to be “a dismal failure” by Professor Quiggin.

A third panel member, Shirley In’t Veld, is the former head of WA government owned generation company Verve Energy which

has had a history of snubbing renewable energy and chose instead to invest in the refurbishment of the ageing Muja coal-fired generator. The refurbishment has proved to be a financial disaster, with the WA government admitting that nearly $300 million had gone down the drain.

The fourth member is Dr Brian Fisher, the former long-term head of ABARE until he left for private enterprise in 2006 to head up a fossil fuel lobby group, Concept Economics. At ABARE he gained notoriety for his positions on climate policies and is a noted free-market hardliner. Under Fisher:

ABARE was responsible for the infamous “MEGABARE” model that made Australia a laughing stock in connection to the Kyoto negotiations.

Sounds like a merry crew, Abbott’s idea of ‘balance’, and bound to add to the climate recalcitrance now so common in the Anglo-Saxon world.

There is a question as to whether the LNP deliberately lied and misled the public prior to the election. The SMH cites specific bi-partisanship as late as July 2013. Labor’s view:

“At every possible point, they tried to assure the community that there was a bipartisan consensus around the RET, and therefore the growth of renewables,” Labor climate change spokesman Mark Butler says. “What’s clear now is that it was just an utter falsehood.”

Albo:

“They made it very clear; Greg Hunt staked his reputation on the maintenance of the renewable energy target,” he told said in the island state of Tasmania.

“It’s important for jobs. It’s important in terms of positioning Australia as a clean energy economy into the future.

“We’ll wait and see what they do but we’ll be holding them to account,” Mr Albanese said.

Update: Giles Parkinson tells how the Warburton Review is getting down to business today by looking at what the RET of 20% means. Presently it is a number – “41,000GWh of large-scale developments and an uncapped amount of small-scale generation”. It seems that more than half of that number can be made to disappear by changing definitions.