Part 2: Labor’s climate policy funding shuffle dance

August 18, 2010 at 12:09 am 3 comments

This is the second part of our special series on the Labor Party’s 2010 climate policies. Part one is here. This edition, we discuss the funding shuffle dance that is Labor’s renewable energy policies.

Renewable energy (which includes ‛clean coal’ – who knew?)

Renewable Energy Future Fund (is this superannuation for wind farms?)

Well, it’s $652 million to support renewable energy projects, and development of low emissions technologies. It will also be used for energy efficiency programs for households and business. Sounds good, investing in new renewable technologies, doesn’t it? Except, as the Beyond Zero Emissions report outlines, we already have the technology to transition Australia to 100% clean energy.

But hey, we can always improve on existing technology, right? And household energy efficiency is a really effective, cheap way to reduce emissions, so that’s a great use of taxpayer dollars. Only problem: $9 million of this renewable energy money will be used to pay for the Big New Focus Group (BNFG) Huh. Wonder what else they’ll drain this one for. Don’t worry, it’s just a Future Fund, and the future never arrives! Right?

Connecting to the matrix

This is a new policy announcement – $1 billion over a decade to connect renewable energy projects to the electricity grid. Now, if we could only take that $2 billion going into ‛clean coal’ research and put it into actual renewable energy, we might have something substantial to connect to the grid. And how about the rest of the $9 billion we spend on fossil fuel subsidies? We could connect up a lot of renewable energy projects with $9 billion!

Solar Flagships (conjuring up confused images of ships with flags and solar panels)

This was announced in last year’s budget and was supposed to be a $1.5 billion program to establish large solar-power stations. This is great, yes? This is what Australians want – large scale renewable projects! So how’s it going so far? Eight projects are shortlisted, and it is expected that next year the government will announce the first two projects. So, as yet, we have nothing but the hope in our hearts.

And also, the government is already pulling out $220 million to pay for for their Cash for Clunkers initiative. The solar industry is worried. Understandably.

Carbon Capture and Storage (or ‛clean coal’ so we can wash our troubles away)

It’s pretty funny that Labor shoves a fossil fuel subsidy into the renewable energy funding category. I would put it in the ‛wasting time and money’ category. But they didn’t ask me.

$2 billion. That’s half a billion more than they are spending on the large-scale Solar Flagships program; 2 BILLION DOLLARS spent on an expensive, unproven technology that has never been successfully used anywhere in the world. And IF it is ever successfully developed, by the time it is implemented it will be too late to stop runaway climate change anyway, since we have such a short window of time to take drastic action. The good news? Labor is cutting $150 million from this one. The bad news? The $150 million is going towards the expensive Cash for Clunkers program that will prop up the new car industry. ‛Cause that’s what we need – more cars!

Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme (sshhh, don’t mention the other one)

This is the scheme that replaced the Solar Hot Water Rebate and the Home Insulation Program, which we don’t talk about any more. The new scheme gives rebates for insulation, solar hot water systems and heat pumps. They’re cutting this one by $150 million to help pay for the new cars.

‛Enhanced’ Renewable Energy Target (still woefully inadequate)

Labor has ‛enhanced’ their Renewable Energy Target (the Target being 20% renewables by 2020). Enhanced how? Labor seems to be trying to reduce emissions with magical thinking (their policies certainly won’t), so will the Target be enhanced with unicorns and double rainbows? Well, no, it is actually an amendment that splits the existing Renewable Energy Target into two parts: large-scale projects such as wind farms, and small-scale systems such as residential solar photovoltaic panels.

Only problem is, 20% is nowhere near what we need. To achieve the kind of deep emissions cuts we need in the next ten years we need to get Australia powered by 100% clean energy and fast. Is 100% renewables even possible in the near future? Beyond Zero Emissions have developed an affordable plan based on existing renewable technologies that will deliver 24/7 baseload operation by 2020. So, yes.

Grand total of cuts to renewables programs?

Drumroll….. Labor will CUT $520 MILION from renewables programs over four years! This is cuts of $150 million to the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme, slicing $220 million from the Solar Flagships program and $150 million off the CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) program. That last one we don’t really care about anyway. ‛Clean coal’. Funny. Only, not really.

In part 3 of this series, we look at business, forestry, various assorted policies, and we look at how Labor’s climate policies ultimately stack up.

Entry filed under: 100% renewables, Policy, renewable energy, solar power. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

Part 1: Labor’s climate policy – moving backwards, fast Part 3: Labor’s climate policy: so will we reach our paltry targets?

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