So this site is primarily about Mutilating your mortgage obviously, however I do sometimes like to use it for venting. Today is one of those days and so without further ado let me climb upon a very specially designed soap box that I’ve temporarily borrowed off Jacob from ERE (it’s the custom made one for extended use ).
*Climbs Upon Soapbox*
The Renewable Energy Target or RET is a bipartisan Government scheme designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector, encourage the additional generation of renewable energy through financial incentives, and ensure that at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity supply will come from renewable sources by 2020.
You can find more detailed information about it here however it is basically the government (ie. taxpayers) funding or subsidising renewable technologies like the solar panels on your roof or the building of wind farms. Now hopefully we all know about and accept climate change by now so you should also know how important doing this type of stuff is. The world is changing due to us and to continue to screw it up by burning coal is like slowly burning your ship one plank at a time while you’re in the middle of the ocean – moronic. Even if you don’t care at all for the planet or having a place to live in the future (or for your children to live in the future) it’s now become the smartest financial thing to do too so unless you also don’t like money there’s really no reason not to push towards a 100% renewables filled future. (For those wondering why it makes financial sense to go to 100% renewables now it’s because they’ve calculated it will cost more in damages if we do nothing versus the cost of moving to a renewable energy world now).
So we’ve had this RET funding going on for quite some time now and it’s been a huge, huge success. Not only has it helped lower the cost of regular people buying solar panels for their homes (us for example along with literally millions of other homes around Australia) but it’s generated a massive new renewables energy industry. Thousands of jobs for electricians and other well qualified technicians, thousands of small businesses not to mention it is helping Australia meet our international commitments to lowering our emissions. On top of that it is actually lowering demand for electricity (both through people using solar power instead of the grid as well as through energy efficiency measures) and even helping to lower wholesale electricity prices, something we can all agree is a good thing for homes and businesses alike.
On top of all this it’s been responsible for helping to stimulate and bring in billions of dollars of investments to Australia. Yes, that’s billion with a “b”. This is for the larger energy farms that have and are still being built by big energy companies. megawatt sized wind farms and such. I don’t think it’s too outrageous to say that Australia kind of needs a rapidly expanding new industry to provide work and economic stimulus for the country now that mining is slowing down and many other businesses are struggling due to “high costs of running in Australia”. Australia might be a top place to live but people still need work and the RET has been responsible for generating a LOT of it, nation wide too and it’s only just getting started. These jobs aren’t just in the installation of solar panels and wind turbines either, Australia is a fantastic R&D country with places like the CSIRO inventing globally changing technologies such as WiFi. The RET has helped to generate jobs into solar research and make Australia one of (if not the) leaders in renewables R&D. This allows us to sell the technology to other countries which are pouring billions and in some cases trillions into renewables at an ever growing rate.
So yes, us taxpayers are footing the bill for the RET… but I’d call it a pretty sweet investment wouldn’t you? Who doesn’t like saving the planet whilst getting all the above benefits!? Well, as it turns out the current government doesn’t that’s who.
Along Comes The Liberals…
Now I don’t really care much for the current political system but it is what it is, I still think my proposal makes more sense but at the last Federal election the Liberals were touting quotes such as this when referring to the RET:
The Coalition supports the current system, including the 41,000 giga-watt hours target. [source]
You can’t get much more clearer than that, however recently Tony Abbott hand picked a special review panel to review the RET. Rather than follow the statutory requirements to have the review done by the Climate Change Authority, which just 18 months ago rejected the same arguments that the new panel has now accepted, he chose to pick this “unbiased” crew:
Dr Fisher is one of the four experts tasked by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to decide the target’s future. The review is headed by former Caltex head Dick Warburton, who has publicly questioned whether carbon emissions cause global warming. The other panellists are Shirley In’t Veld, former head of WA’s biggest coal generator, and the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Matt Zema. [source]
Mmmm… looks super unbiased and fair to me </sarcasm>. I mean honestly, it’s like appointing a 4 year old to “review whether he should be given free chocolate or not”. What do you think’s going to happen? Well, you were right as the results of this absurd review have just been released.
Kill It With Fire!
Yup. That’s pretty much their professional recommendation. Take something that is being successful and kill it. Good work team coal. You can see a good breakdown of the recommendation here (about half way down the page) but they give two options, kill it completely or wind it back significantly. Both of which will kill the entire renewable energy industry. In fact, this review is so retarded even their own biased analysis team did their due diligence and came back saying that the RET was doing a great job and will reduce power prices in the future. But that hasn’t stopped them from just recommending the government shut it down 100%.
So what does this mean for you and I if the current fun loving government rams these recommendations through the Senate like they did with the Carbon Tax Repeal Bill? Well it means that power prices will remain high and only get higher in the future due to their being fewer renewable energy sources in the mix to help push prices down. It might also mean you as a renewable energy based researcher, installer, electrician or company owner etc will likely either lose your job or have a very hard time in the future. It will also mean that the cost of buying retail solar panel systems for homes will go up by around 1/3rd making it harder for everyone to buy them. It will also mean we are encouraging the destruction of our planet plus we’ll be the first country in history to pedal back on a RET just like we were the first country in history to repeal an Emission Trading Scheme (that’s the proper name for the “carbon tax”).
The real damage though isn’t from solar panels going up 33% though, it’s the fact that the Australian Government just lied to everyone. As stated in the beginning, this RET had bipartisan support. BOTH sides of the major government parties supported and pledged to support it. They made a promise and because of that promise business big and small started to invest their hard earned money into building businesses around generating renewable energy and technologies thinking that the government would keep their promise. Although they haven’t (yet) pushed this through the Senate and shut down the RET the fact that it’s got this far and is this ridiculously transparent and corrupt indicates that they’re doing everything they can to shut it down.
So imagine you own a big fancy business and started a wind farm assured by both major government parties that they support and encourage renewables and that the RET (something your business and financial models are all based on) will be continued to be supported for years to come… and now they’ve just said “screw you” and cancelled it all making your business unprofitable and bankrupt (yes, many companies will be bankrupted from this move). Would you EVER trust that countries government again? Would any other investor or company trust that countries government again? Of course not! And that’s why there will be no further investment in Australia for a good, long while.
What To Do?
If you do feel like doing something to bring attention to this ridiculous farce of corruption and abuse of the Australian people and environment feel free to share this with others you know. The RET is a truly good and financially smart piece of work and everyone knows it but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its enemies. It’s clear it needs our help and I for one am proud to give it.
You can also email your local Liberal Senator and let them know (politely) what you’d like them to do. You could even email the Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt and (politely) tell him your opinion. I don’t advocate spamming or contact that is in any way abusive etc as this is not only wrong, but pointless as you will be ignored. You can simply say hello and request that he support keeping the RET in its current form or even to expand it and then say good day just like you would to anyone else in an email.
At the very least though I hope my ranting on has given you a view into the current Australian renewable energy sector. Do we all want the coal and energy companies to continue gouging us for the world’s dirtiest energy source whilst pocketing billions? Or would we rather a clean and more financially stable future with more robust power generation that we can all be proud of. Personally I’d just like my tax money not to be wasted by giving it to billion dollar coal companies. Guess that’s not what “Team Australian” does though huh…