Carbon tax goes: now for the historical perspective

axe over a power station

The Tax has been Axed.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, you’ll have heard that Australia has achieved the dubious distinction of being the first country in history to repeal a carbon tax. With the unholy support of so-called independents, the repeal sailed through the Senate. This to the jubilation of the polluters, energy companies and fossil fuel companies, some of whom had decked out their compliant senators in high visibility vests for the big vote.

I tell you, you couldn’t make this stuff up! [Read more...]

Australia’s future vs Abbott lies on renewable energy

abbott

Spreading blatant mistruths.

There are three schools of thought to explain the Abbott lies on renewable energy. One is that our PM is under the influence of the fossil fuel energy companies and is happy to repeat their propaganda; two is that is he has been ill-advised by dodgy minders and three (to put it politely) he may have temporarily taken leave of his senses.

How else can you explain Mr Abbott’s statement this week that the Renewable Energy Target was responsible for energy price rises? The Prime Minister said the RET was making Australia “ the unaffordable energy capital of the world” and was somehow “…very significantly driving up power prices”.

What? [Read more...]

How the IPA poisons renewable energy policy in Australia

The hardcore right-wing IPA hates renewables.

The hardcore right-wing IPA hates renewables. We love renewables (and beer).

Ever wondered why our government is so quick to destroy clean energy initiatives? Why the great work of agencies such as ARENA is ignored? How the green sector rarely gets a look in when it comes to energy policy? One clue as to the source of this ‘slash-and-burn’ mentality may lie in the influence of a powerful think tank called the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). This week we’ll peel back the extent of that link and examine the power of the IPA in renewable energy policy. [Read more...]

Major CSIRO solar breakthrough underlines ARENA’s worth

CSIRO solar tower with mirror array.

These mirrors at CSIRO in Newcastle can focus the sun to create superheated steam. That is the same pressure and temperature of steam that a coal or nuclear fired power plant creates. Amazing. Picture credit: CSIRO

Further evidence emerged this week from the CSIRO of the value of the embattled Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to the nation. ARENA, you may well recall, is at the centre of the current government’s ideological campaign against renewable energy with its very existence now in doubt through savage proposed budget cuts.

The breakthrough was the successful heating of steam to a supercritical temperature using solar energy. Supercritical steam is very high temperature and high pressure steam, that is needed to run electricity generating turbines efficiently. Essentially this means that we can now use the sun to drive conventional electricity turbines, like those found in a coal fired or even nuclear power station. This development has the potential to be a “gamechanger” in the way we generate electricity, according to the CSIRO. [Read more...]

ARENA’s existence hangs by a thread

wind farm and solar panels and a thread being cut

Large scale renewables hanging by a thread thanks to Joe Hockey’s cuts.

Well we knew it was going to be a horror budget didn’t we readers? At least you couldn’t accuse the Abbott administration of not warning us. For weeks we had the drumbeat of fear. The chant that the so-called “age of entitlements” was at an end (except for certain vested interests it seems). The latest “Sloppy” Joe updates leaked to the Murdoch press and (of course) the draconian views of the Audit Commission. So we knew that the story for renewable energy Australia would be bad in the 2014 budget, the question was….how bad?

[Read more...]

What? Oz thrashed by Poms on solar PV installation?

union jack

The Poms have come from behind to give us a thrashing.

We Aussies hate to be trumped by another nation in any field of endeavour. Whether on the sporting field, in battle or in the latest scientific innovation, we like to think we always “punch above our weight”.

Imagine our horror then, when we learned of being completely spanked by the land of grey skies and shitty weather in an area we should call our very own:  solar PV installations. [Read more...]

Uncertainty in Australian solar policy rears its ugly head

depressed businessman

CEO of First Solar reacts to Abbott’s latest speech on energy policy

One recurring, if unfortunate, theme of these pages has been the constant spectre of uncertainty in Australian solar policy. We’ve ranted before about why Australia should be led by more forward thinking pollies in both Canberra and the state capitals but bugger it, when you’re onto a good thing, why not continue?

So here goes, Rant #234 about the paucity of Australian solar policy leadership… [Read more...]

Big Clive throws weight behind 20 percent renewable energy target. Or does he?

clive palmer

Thumbs up for Solar? Or not?

Well the big solar news this week was provided by a Big Man. Big Clive to be precise. Yes finally the message of sustainability, affordability and keeping the environment for future generations was played out through the mainstream media. More precisely through Big Clive Palmer’s endorsement of his W.A. Senate PUP candidate’s ringing praise for the 20 percent renewable energy target.

Splattered all over the front pages and on our national broadcaster was the man famous for bloody big holes in the ground, Titanics, grandiose press conferences, collecting mining leases and pouring billions into the formation of his very own lobby group…er political party. [Read more...]

ANU and Trina Solar Panels smash solar efficiency targets.

a solar cell

Trina and ANU are making kick-ass solar cells together!

With the start of the NRL (AFL just around the corner), the Spring cycling classics in Europe and as women’s and men’s football and others reach the pointy end of their respective seasons, its a case of too much teamwork is barely enough for your correspondent. However a more important form of teamwork was announced late last month. Chinese solar manufacturers Trina and our very own Australian National University (ANU) have combined to create a new, super conversion efficiency in solar cells. This has the potential to make Trina solar panels even more cost effective.

[Read more...]

The gutting of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation: is Howard a ray of hope?

John Howard and a ray of light

Is John Howard a CEFC fan?

Just when you thought the gathering of the dark clouds of the new government’s blitzkrieg against renewable energy initiatives was complete, a tiny ray of sunshine bursts through the gathering gloom. Or has it? I speak this week of the uncertainty over the dumping of the showcase Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

The ray of sunshine, if it is such, comes in the unlikely form of Arthur “Svengali” Sinodinos, who many will remember as being one of the inner cabal that served John “carbon tax” Howard, noted PM and Australia’s worst off spinner.

[Read more...]