Thursday, 10 July 2014

Save the Renewable Energy Target

On Tuesday I watched Four Corners it was about renewable energy and how the Abbott government tearing up the carbon tax and the impending dismantling the 20% renewable energy target. I think the carbon tax will most likely go, but there is still a chance for the renewable energy target.

The rise of electricity prices wasn’t caused by the introduction of the carbon tax, but by stupid state governments that gave incentives for electricity producers to improve their networks to cater for an assumed, but ultimately fictitious, rise in electricity consumption.

The big problem for the Abbott government is that the 20% renewable energy target has actually been too effective with the rise of electricity prices actually leading, for the first time ever, to a reduction in electricity consumption. The people who created this target hardcoded a figure that had to be reached by 2020 with the assumption that electricity consumption would continue to go up. This means that this 20% target will end up being more like 25% or even 30%.

This is great news for the environment and probably better news for electricity prices as sunlight and wind don’t have to be dug out of the ground. Energy providers on the other hand are hurting. Many people have started to supply their own energy with solar panels on their roofs. Couple that with people using less electricity and solar energy being the cheapest form of energy during peak times - such as on a 30° plus day.

Some power plants have started down sizing and people are already starting to lose jobs. This was always going to happen, there had to be a consequence for switching to renewable energy. The government conveniently ignores all the jobs that are created in the renewable energy sector. With many renewable sources energy once the infrastructure has been built that’s it and power just keeps coming in. In the case of fixed angle solar panels there is almost zero maintenance besides cleaning them when they get dirty. (With my own experiments I discovered it is actually not worth the bother to track the sun with solar panels as a very similar benefit can be achieved simply by adding an extra panel to your array.)

It is probable that if we continue building more renewable capacity electricity prices will actually start to go down eventually to a fraction of what we pay now. The Abbott government is on a stupid crusade to demolish the renewable energy industry at the cost of jobs and the planets future. They could seriously jeopardise the economic future of our country. If we are competing with countries that have electricity prices that are 10% of ours we do not have a chance. If we keep polluting the atmosphere our country could face future economic sanctions.

I believe that nothing will stop the march towards renewable energy. Solar panels are just too cheap these days and continuing to get cheaper. It is probably too late for us to be world leaders in the field of renewable energy, but the government needs to get behind industries that will be huge in the future. We want renewable energy start-ups in Australia not exported overseas.

We want politicians with vision not those who are driven by the whims of big business supporting industries that simply won’t exist in the future. Coal has been great for Australia but just because it has provided relatively cheap electricity for generations does not mean that we can continue burning it, destroying the environment and the economy. As a country it’s time for us to move on. Coal’s time is over.

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