CANA's members work for increased uptake of renewable energy in Australia to reduce our economy's dependence on pollution. The Government's Clean Energy Future package is an important first step. You can download CANA's fact sheet about renewable enery and the carbon price here.
A global status report for renewable energy published in 2011 found that renewable energy accounted for approximately half of the estimated 194GW of new electric capacity added globally during the year and Bloomberg revealed 2011 was a record investment year for clean and renewable energy -- is Australia making the most of its abundant natural resources of solar and wind energy?
Despite being amply endowed with renewable energy resources, Australia has so far failed to consistently pursue the opportunities of the emerging renewable energy age.
With the opportunities presented by the Clean Energy Future package, and as recently elected inaugural Chair of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Australia is now finally going to be in a position to maximise our natural advantages for renewable energy
What’s going to happen to electricity generation under the carbon price?
- Australia is the third most dependent country in the world on coal for electricity – behind South Africa and Poland.
- Greenhouse pollution from electricity generation has grown 50% since 1990, and accounts for more than half of our total pollution.
- To change this, we need to follow the example of the US, China, Spain and India and stimulate a switch to renewable energy sources, which are free, clean and don’t have to be dug out of the ground, impacting water, soil and biodiversity.
- The Clean Energy Future package promises that $10 billion of the money collected from the big polluting 500 companies for their pollution permits will be allocated to a new Clean Energy Finance Corporation to spend over five years from 2013.
- Half of this money is guaranteed to go to commercial-scale renewable energy projects, and the other half will be available to renewables, as well other unspecified “clean” energy technologies.
- None of the money will be available to carbon capture and storage fossil fuel power.
- In addition, the Australian Energy Market Operator will be undertaking work to investigate how Australia’s energy systems could be transformed to 100% renewable energy.
- In the low-ambition scenario modeling by the Treasury (which is where we’ll start next year), the pollution intensity of electricity generation starts dropping as a result of the carbon price, to 0.75 tonnes per MW in 2020.
- This means its unlikely that new conventional coal fired power stations will get built – there just won’t be any investors willing to throw their money away on it.
- If we shift quickly to the more ambitious scenario, which is consistent with the global agreement Australia says it wants to be part of, a much stronger signal will be sent, and the uptake of renewable energy will be more rapid.
- The modeling done for the carbon price scenarios didn’t take into account the renewables boost provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation or the more ambitious demand-reduction we can secure through a national energy savings initiative, due to start next year.
What’s next then?
The mandate of the CEFC is not yet determined: it would be a wasted opportunity for the money raised from the pollution permits to be given to fossil fuel technologies and Australia will maximise the uptake of renewables if the investment mandate of that body is limited to the lowest-pollution sources of new energy.
The recommendations of the Prime Minister's Task Group on Energy Efficiency were released in October 2010. The central mechanism proposed by the Task Group to deliver a step change in energy efficiency was a national energy savings initiative, which would set a mandatory energy savings obligation to incentivise investments in energy efficiency.
The Task Group estimated this initiative would reduce household energy bills by as much as $296 a year. If you are looking for advice on how to reduce your energy bills, visit the Moreland Energy Foundation website.
The National Energy Savings Initiative should finally be able to implement the very obvious, simple and inexpensive energy efficiency measures that can make energy cheaper and reduce the need for polluting power.