Bob Brown and solar energy: the Senator’s real legacy

Bob Brown Loves Renewable Energy

Bob Brown – photo credit flickr:james_tCA

As Greens leader Senator Bob Brown bowed gracefully out of politics this week, news of the latest milestone in the construction of Australia’s largest solar farm shows he is leaving Australian politics a far more supportive place for solar energy than he found it.

Despite some sniping from political enemies both in and out of Parliament (including a predictable diatribe from a well-known Opposition wingnut saying that Senator Brown’s legacy will be the carbon tax), opinion from commentators was that he was that rare political animal: an honest representative with a clear vision. This was particularly so on renewable energy.

Perhaps the highest profile supporter of renewable forms of energy in the Australian parliament, the respected leader, activist and part-time photographer has become a committed advocate of green energy since his arrival in the federal capital in 1996. Sen. Brown’s role in shaping environmental policy in the country was mentioned in a tribute from Pacific Hydro general manager Lane Crockett:

“Senator Brown will be remembered for his foresight and courage in pursuing better environmental outcomes for all Australians,”

Perhaps Sen. Brown’s greatest contribution to changing the debate on renewable energy (his major legacy) has been bringing the debate on renewable energy into the mainstream. This was personified by the announcement this week that the first of 150,000 solar panels have been installed at the Greenough River Solar Farm near Geraldton in Western Australia. A joint venture between Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services, the solar energy project will be the largest of its type in the country and will power a desalination plant and buildings in the region.

However the key change in emphasis towards renewables was that, not only has the conservative Western Australian government kicked in money for the project for the venture through its Royalties for Regions Fund but that it is fully committed through the state-owned Verve Energy.

W.A. Energy Minister Peter Collier, who attended the opening, almost sounded like a vintage Bob Brown when he said of the Greenough project:

“This is just the start of much more … I can say the best is yet to come in terms of the energy needs of the mid-west.”

“It is a very symbolic gesture, it is 10 megawatts of clean, green energy for the future and as I said it really is the start of a multi-faceted approach to renewable energy for the mid-west and for Western Australia as a whole.”

Tie-dyed solar energy t-shirts for West Australians next?

Take a bow Bob Brown.

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