Australian leaders lurch further out of step on renewables

abbott and renewables

Abbott wants to stand up for poor, downtrodden, powerless coal. It’s good for humanity don’t you know. Unlike that nasty renewable stuff.

A very significant week in Australian renewable energy politics with the historic agreement between China and the United States on reducing emissions at the recent APEC summit in Beijing.

Significant for Australia because the ideological campaign against renewables (let’s call it for what it is) used to be heavily based around the fact that we were the leaders in cutting emissions while the rest of the world waited. The argument went that by taking such a leadership role, our industry was suffering.

This argument was flawed from the start and is now completely destroyed as nearly every other industrialised nation has made solid moves to cut emissions and support a renewable energy plan.

The effect of the China-US agreement is to focus squarely on our own policies on renewable energy.

Australian renewable energy politics is proving to be an embarrassment. As I write world leaders are gathering in Brisbane for the prestigious G20 meeting. And where has the host country placed climate change and renewable energy on the agenda? Nowhere. As if to underline just how out of step the country is with the rest of the world, our Mr Abbott has specifically stated that climate change has no place at the Brisbane leg of the G20. This on top of his blatant spruiking of the fossil fuel industries.


With negotiations breaking down over the Renewable Energy Target (RET), Australian renewable energy politics has hit the proverbial tipping point. Labor delegates have reportedly walked out on the negotiations saying they cannot agree to the drastic cuts to the 20 percent target by 2020 that the government wants.

Now this can be interpreted in a couple of ways:

  • That Labor is starting to show some spine in standing up to the government’s plan (perhaps as they realise the popularity of renewable energy amongst Australians).
  • It is a calculated move to embarrass the government following the China-US agreement and on the eve of the G20 meeting in Brisbane.

However if it’s the latter, perhaps the Labor party spin doctors should note that the Abbott government really doesn’t need any assistance in embarrassing itself on the world stage.

Historically Australians tend to be suspicious of policies and politicians. This, I would suspect, is no different with Australian renewable energy politics. We expect mediocrity in our elected representatives and are usually not disappointed. As we move (lurch would be a better term) between a bad and worse set of policies on this vital issue, the tendency of the Australian public is to go ahead and support renewable energy regardless of government policy. Hence the proliferation of solar panels on Australian roofs. The “ground (or roof) up” nature of our solar industry.

How long before our pollies follow the people on renewables?


  1. Colin Spencer says

    There is no campaign against renewable energy by the Australian government. Reviewing levels of taxpayer subsidisation and rationalisation of subsidised programs to eliminate waste and scamming by large organisations is wise policy. What the solar people have to do, is to convince the government that locally generated solar electricity takes the load off distribution infrastructure and is an important contributor to peak load generation. Particularly on hot summers days when many of Australia’s capital city networks have in the past, been overloaded leading to power cuts.

    Also that the home-owner’s capital investment in solar systems is the focal point of PV Solar on homes; and businesses, for that matter. The firms flogging wind power are never going to deliver value for money. It is the people who pay taxes and they don’t want to waste that money on concepts that provide negative returns in terms of value.

    Come on guys! You do a great job selling solar, sell the benefits of PV Solar to the government in terms of consequential savings, showing that continued subsidisation is good value and worthy of public funding.

    • Robin Shannon says

      Neither Solar or wind is the total answer to our future energy needs, there are big holes in both technologies……sometimes there is no sun, and sometimes there is no wind. But please don’t simply can one because you may support the other. Domestic solar has an effective generation window of around 5 hours per day (under reasonable sunlight conditions) where as wind has an effective generation window of 24 hours per day (under reasonable wind conditions)! One interesting observation though! Between July the 13th and the 16th last year the entire power needs of South Australia was generated by wind power alone, and this state became a net exporters of renewable energy. We could not have done it without solar……and we could not have done it without wind. Each year we get just a little bit better at both!
      So lets be fair and promote renewable technology in all it’s forms, without giving one a guernsey and the other a raspberry!

  2. “How long before our pollies follow the people on renewables?”
    Until it’s more profitable to switch.
    The point remains that it’s you good citizens who keep electing the bastards (regardless of who you vote for) and paying taxes to support them.

  3. Rich Bowden says

    Excellent points. Thanks folks!

  4. Never appeal to a man’s “better nature.” He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. — Lazarus Long …

  5. Paul Hayward says

    “And I call this meeting of The Flat Earth Society, in Canberra, to order” !!

  6. I’m no scientist…but given the industrial-sized chemistry facilities around the place and the every-day process of splitting atoms, etc., I can’t help wondering why they can’t synthesise whatever is needed. Silicon is just sand in drag, after all.


  1. Can the world produce enough raw materials to feed the solar panel boom? - Solar Quotes Blog says:

    […] than supportive legislative framework for renewables (any guesses?) are seeing solar growth cycles. As discussed last week, in these cases its a matter of the politicians lagging well behind the people on this vital issue […]

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