Budget 2021-22: Renewables Pretty Much Ignored

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg - Budget 2021-22

There wasn’t much expected in Budget 2021-22 for tried and tested renewables or electric vehicles, and that’s exactly what Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered.

The Morrison Government seems fixated on putting cash into fossil fuels and questionable technologies rather than investing in what’s been proven to work to slash emissions and energy costs, while also creating jobs.

There was little in Budget 2021-22  for renewables per se. While among the items is $275 million towards developing hydrogen production hubs in regional areas, this is problematic on a number of fronts including the fact that fossil fuels could potentially be involved. There’s been so much hype about hydrogen – Australia is going to look pretty silly if it doesn’t pan out.

Other selected bits:

  • $237 million for carbon capture and storage projects (CCS) – technology that hasn’t been proven at scale.
  • $58.6 million to support key gas infrastructure projects
  • $24.9 million to assist new gas generators become “hydrogen-ready”
  • $30 million Australian Industrial Power’s Port Kembla gas-fired power station
  • Production payments to support local refineries continue operating in Australia – amount unknown
  • $49.3 million for battery and microgrid projects

For electric vehicles, the cupboard was bare.

One renewables-related bright spot for business was instant asset write-off tax breaks have been extended – which should help encourage uptake of commercial solar.

Here’s how some organisations have reacted to Budget 2021-22.

Climate Council: A National Shame

Just prior to the Budget being handed down when its focus became clear, the Climate Council admonished the Federal Government, noting just 2% of the money that has gone to COVID recovery efforts has been spent on solutions to reduce emissions; whereas in France the figure is 47% and in Germany 50%.

“The consequences of Australia’s climate inaction are catching up with us, as the EU and USA contemplate carbon border adjustment taxes that could see expensive tariffs slapped on many Australian exports,” said Climate Council spokesperson and economist Nicki Hutley.

Clean Energy Council: Missed Opportunity

The CEC said a clean recovery from COVID-19 could have resulted in more $50 billion of investment, more than 30GW of renewable energy capacity and more than 50,000 new jobs seeing these projects delivered.

“Overall, tonight’s Budget represents a missed opportunity to utilise our country’s extraordinary renewable energy and energy storage potential to jumpstart Australia’s economic resurgence and leaves leadership in reducing Australia’s emissions and trajectory towards net-zero to the states and territories,” said CEC CEO, Kane Thornton.

Greenpeace: Putting On A Show

Greenpeace accused the Morrison Government of putting on a show of addressing symptoms of climate change while not tackling the root cause – the burning of fossil fuels. It also criticised the focus on “false solutions” such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), the viability of which is questionable and pretty much like sweeping dirt under a rug.

“The Coalition Government seems hell-bent on funding everything but proven, existing zero emissions technology like wind and solar,” said Head of Research & Investigations at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Dr Nikola Čašule.

ACF: False Hope In Fossil Fuels

The Australian Conservation Foundation said Budget 2021 was missing the wave of change sweeping the world, clinging to the false hope that fossil fuels will continue to help prop up Australia.

“The Morrison government continues to shovel public money at fossil fuel projects while reducing funds for tackling climate change and the degradation of nature,” said ACF’s Economy and Democracy Program Manager, Matt Rose. “The government is throwing loose change at Australia’s climate and extinction crisis.”

While Budget 2021-22 was a bummer for renewables, thankfully the states have been putting in the hard yards in this respect; and of course the many local governments, households and businesses that are going solar – slashing emissions while also slashing their energy costs.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Des Scahill says

    Conspicuously absent was any mention of all of Nuclear SMR electricity generation, and any ‘progress’ on that front.

    I wouldn’t read too much into that at present, could simply be that SMRs will resurface as ‘dead white rabbit out of magicians hat’ at future pre-election period.

    So far as climate change is concerned, is just ‘business as usual’ approach.

    No need to be surprised at all about that.

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