Post-Election : What Now For Solar Power In Australia?

PM Scott Morrison - solar panels

With Scott Morrison to continue at Australia’s helm, what now for solar energy? Is Australia’s popular solar rebate again threatened?

While the post-mortem of Labor’s loss will be debated for some time, e.g. the “ Adani factor” in Queensland, the reality is Prime Minister Morrison, ScoMo, Scooter – however you wish to reference him – is all set to lead the country again until the next election assuming PM hot-desking has ended.

There was very little in the way of election commitments regarding solar power from the Liberals and as for addressing climate change going forward – don’t expect a road to Damascus moment for the foreseeeable future.

What About The Solar Rebate?

Australia’s major solar power subsidy (aka the solar rebate), while being gradually phased out, can still knock thousands off the cost of acquiring a system. The subsidy operates under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

Back in October last year, Federal Minister for Energy Angus Taylor indicated the SRES will be maintained and not changed1.

Thankfully, governments are totally trustworthy, have amazing memories and never backflip. But with one politician in particular now thrust out into the cold, the unmolested continuation of the solar rebate could be a commitment that is a little easier to keep.

Ta-Ta Tony

After 25 years of holding the seat of Warringah in his iron fist – which he also used to squeeze the testicles of Australia’s solar power sector  – Tony Abbott was bested by independent Zali Steggall; who campaigned heavily on real action on climate change.

While Mr. Abbott posed a major threat to the solar industry at various times, he also unintentionally sparked a rush on solar power with his sabre-rattling during his stint as PM; contributing to the solar-coaster experience all too often seen in Australia..

So, with Mr. Abbott gone2, that’s one less MP of any note/notoriety squawking about prematurely axing a successful scheme that supports thousands of jobs, helps Australians take control over their energy costs, reduces emissions, and is gradually being phased out anyway.

But wait, there’s more..

Carry On Craig

We’ll still have Craig Kelly to keep us amused or outraged – and sometimes both at once – on the issue of renewables and related industries. Mr. Kelly, who lamented the demise of his brother-in-arms, wants the rebate gone. But without his “climate change is crap” compadre standing beside him, hopefully the only real audience Craig Kelly will have for this are his Facebook followers.

Messrs Abbott and Kelly weren’t alone in their disdain for the subsidy among Coalition MPs, but the most vocal in relatively recent times. The Morrison Government will also still come under pressure from other corners including the ACCC, which has repeatedly called for the early end to the solar rebate.

Footnotes

  1. But there are other ways to tinker with it
  2. Well, sort of. Tony Abbott says he expects his public life to continue
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. Geoff Hansen says

    please explain how renewable energy works in finland? Unless they are prepared to cover large areas of land with with wind turbines. That doesnt seem to to be viable.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      In terms of land area required wind power is one of the most concentrated sources of energy there is. In Australia a modern wind farm takes away around 1% of the area it covers from its original use. This is for the tower sites and access roads.

  2. Thank goodness Tony is gone. As a PM, he was average at best, but as a planet destroyer, well, he was remarkably effective at brainwashing people. I hope Waringah enjoys a breath of fresh air.
    I got into an argument on election night with some Liberal friends of mine, where they said that 4 years pay back on panels is too long, and there is absolutely no other reason to get solar panels. No keeping some people happy, is there? Oh well!

    • Des Scahill says

      Unfortunately Mark, these days we live in a society where far too many people fact check virtually nothing, have stopped watching the news because ‘its too depressing’ (and they believe its all ‘fake news’ anyway because some-one told them it was), and accept plausible sounding propaganda gleaned from various conspiracy channels on You-Tube and numerous conspiracy ‘news sheets’ as truth.

      Oh – I almost forgot Twitter,- which at any moment in time possibly has as many as half a million twits tweeting twaddle to each other – as a news source.

      Very much a case of the ill-informed informing the uninformed these days I’d suggest.

  3. Des Scahill says

    In relation to the ‘Adani factor’, I see in to-nights news that

    ‘A $6.7 billion Chinese mega mine coal project adjacent to the Adani venture in Queensland’s Galilee Basin is in doubt after the company abandoned its bid for a mining lease.’

    You can read the full article here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-23/macmines-abandons-mining-lease-applications/11138310?section=business

    • Geoff Miell says

      Des Scahill,

      Is it any wonder that the Chinese mega coal mine project in the Queensland Galilee Basin “is in doubt after the company abandoned its bid for a mining lease” (from the link you reference)?

      Published in April 2019 was a report by Simon Nicholas & Tim Buckley (at IEEFA) titled “Briefing Note: South Korea Shifting Further Away from Coal: Significant Implications for Australian Coal Exports”. On page 8, under the heading “Wider Implications for Seaborne Thermal Coal Market” includes:

      “As South Korean coal imports decline, Australia, South Africa and Indonesia will be heavily competing with each other over potential new export markets. Depressed market conditions will be significantly exacerbated by the forecast decline in demand for thermal coal imports by both China (Indonesia’s biggest export market) and India (South Africa’s biggest export market and Indonesia’s second biggest). The Office of the Chief Economist forecasts that Indian thermal coal imports will decline at an average rate of 1.5% per year out to2024.[27]

      With NSW key thermal coal export markets all set to decline in the long term, Australian thermal coal miners will be hoping to find new markets in potential growth markets such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Unfortunately for them, South African, Indonesian and Russian exporters will be targeting the same markets.

      With all the main exporters within the Asian seaborne thermal coal market expected to be looking to replace lost export destinations, the market seems set to enter a period of oversupply and reduced prices and royalties unless rational steps are taken.

      For the NSW government, such rational steps should include the cessation of new thermal coal mine approvals.”
      See: http://ieefa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/South-Korea-Shifting-Further-Away-from-Coal_April-2019.pdf

      I would suggest rational steps should include the cessation of new thermal coal mine approvals for the Queensland government also.

      IMO, existing Australian thermal coal mine operators should be very worried if the Adani Charmichael thermal coal project becomes operational. Adani Carmichael is likely to displace existing coal jobs.
      See: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-06/galilee-basin-mining-project-will-reduce-coal-output:-research/8682164

      Or am I missing something?

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