Renewable energy pushing forward

Posted 28th January 2015 by Cassandra House

Renewable Energy is surging forwards in defiance of the Government's best efforts. Despite the Federal government’s attempts to remove the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and encourage the use of coal, renewable energy uptake is pushing forward.

In a late December media release Kane Thornton, Chief Executive of the Clean Energy Council, has stated that the conclusions of a recent review by the Climate Change Authority clearly show that the RET is working. The review concluded that the RET is successful in reducing emissions, stimulating investment in the renewable energy sector and contributed to lowering electricity prices. It also recommended that no significant changes should be made by the government and that a “stable and predictable policy was essential to sustain this investment”.

The reduction in emissions can also be attributed to a decrease in the usage of coal and an increase in renewables both in Australia and the world, despite Tony Abbott’s insistence that “coal is good for humanity”. In China regulations were drafted last year limiting the amount and quality of coal imported; a country that is one of the largest importers of coal globally. Yingli Green Energy, one of the first companies to join the WWF Climate Savers program in China, has announced this month that it has gone beyond its targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This reduction was contributed to by the installation of its own product, PV solar systems, on its factories and many other business-owned buildings.

With this strong stance towards the uptake of renewable energy from the world’s largest consumer of coal, Australia should be following suit. The government’s current climate policy, including its position towards the RET, is under attack from the Opposition due to recent data showing that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Uncertainty surrounding the RET is currently impacting many small renewable energy companies around Australia, with a reluctance from investors to put further money towards the sector until the industry’s fate is more assured. However, these businesses are holding strong due to an increase in the purchases of commercial systems to combat the rising costs of electricity.

There is also positive news which has been announced this month in renewable energy, described as an Australian first. The Victorian company AusNet Services is trialling a 1MW battery to support the mains grid during peak demand periods, in partnership with ABB Australia and Samsung SDI. The Managing Director of AusNet Services, Nino Ficca, says that this trial will determine if battery storage is a viable, non-network option for meeting peak demand. If this trial is successful it could lead to greater development and usage of batteries and renewable energy systems, such as a solar farm and lithium battery system in Japan also supported by Samsung SDI.

The combined pressure from the Climate Change Authority review, current technological developments, the Opposition and many small solar company owners may ensure the survival of the Renewable Energy Target!

Source: Climate Change Authority, 22 December 2014, “2014 Renewable Energy Target Review”, accessed 22 January 2015.

Clean Energy Council, 22 December 2014, “New review undermines government’s call to slash Renewable Energy Target”, accessed 22 January 2015.

Energy Matters, 7 January 2015, “Yingli Solar goes beyond greenhouse gas reduction targets”, accessed 22 January 2015.

Buckley, T, 7 January 2015, “China’s declining coal dependence is evident in the data”, accessed 22 January 2015.

Latimer, C, 17 September 2014, “Chinese cap coal import quality levels”, accessed 22 January 2015.

ABC, 13 October 2014, “Coal ‘good for humanity’, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says at $3.9b Queensland mine opening”, accessed 22 January 2015.

Hannam, P, 6 January 2015, “Small-scale solar power industry hold its own as clouds gather”, accessed 22 January 2015.

Energy Matters, 8 January 2015, “AusNet Battery Energy Storage Trial Under Way”, accessed 22 January 2015.

Christoff, P, 21 January 2015, “FactCheck: did carbon emissions fall faster before the carbon price?”, accessed 22 January 2015.

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