A news item caught your correspondent’s eye last week. According to an ABC local news report of 4 July, the government is set to shell out half of the required funding for a project which will allow solar panels to be integrated into metal roofing. Due to one of Australia’s most polluting companies being on its knees due to the carbon tax (inserts <sarcasm></sarcasm> tags here) we, the taxpayer, are to contribute $2.3 million of this $5 million solar power project for Bluescope Steel.
The interesting part of the deal is that general manager of sales and marketing at Bluescope Steel, Andrew Garey, told reporters that the company needed innovation (read funding) to stay competitive (read keep polluting).
“We can’t do it all ourselves so we have got partnerships with people around the world including universities, governments, and commercial operations overseas.”
The point here is not that the government’s generous handout (as part of the Emerging Renewables program) is not encouraging solar development. It is that the hard working taxpayer (that’s you and I readers) are funding a commercial enterprise for which we will not see any individual benefit.
Should taxpayers be funding major commercial enterprises such as Bluescope? Or should the federal government be looking to encourage domestic solar energy on the principle that industrial giants can certainly afford a few million to invest in what is the latest in renewable energy R&D?
After all solar feed-in tariffs have been slashed across the country by state governments, the latest being Queensland’s Campbell “No Can Do” Newman’s effort to slash the tariff from 44 cents per kilowatt hour to a ridiculous 8 cents. How would solar supporters who have suffered such a solar scorched earth policy react when they hear they, along with their fellow taxpayers, are funding behemoths such as Bluescope Steel?
A touch uncharitable readers? After all shouldn’t we be supporting any innovation in solar energy? Should we be prepared to shell out a few million here and there in the name of development of solar energy? Or should taxpayers funding be more directed towards directly benefitting the taxpayers themselves?
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