Federal Budget 2022-23 And Renewable Energy

Federal Budget 2022-23: renewable Energy and climate change

Last night’s Federal Budget delivered by Treasurer Jim Chalmers saw the Albanese Government make good on renewable energy election commitments – and put the sword to Angus Taylor’s energy abomination.

Some of the cash earmarked for renewables and related activities:

  • $20 billion for upgrades to the electricity grid; including investing in Marinus Link, which is to connect Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation pumped hydro and renewables to the east coast transmission network.
  • $1.9 billion for the Powering the Regions Fund to support the development of new clean energy industries and the decarbonisation priorities of existing industry, and help regional Australians access the economic opportunities of decarbonisation.
  • $500 million for the Driving the Nation Fund to reduce transport emissions; including electric vehicle charging stations at 117 highway sites.
  • $345 million Electric Car Discount – exempts eligible electric cars from fringe benefits tax (FBT) and the 5 per cent import tariff (where applicable).
  • $224.3 million for the Community Batteries for Household Solar Program  –  up to 400 community batteries across Australia.
  • $102.2 million for the Community Solar Banks program to help up to 25,000 households otherwise locked out of solar energy savings own or lease part of a large solar installation.
  • $100 million for the New Energy Apprenticeships and New Energy Skills programs.

… and there’s likely a few other bits I’ve missed.

“After nearly 10 frustrating years, and more than 20 failed energy policies, Australia now has a government that understands the generational and economic imperative of acting on climate change – And a plan that provides stability to the energy grid and certainty to investors,” said the Treasurer.

All Over For UNGI

The previous Morrison Government’s controversial Underwriting New Generation Investments (UNGI) program was part of then-Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction (cough) Angus Taylor’s plan to deliver “affordable, reliable 24/7 power”. Under UNGI, the Morrison Government was to provide financial support to develop firmed generation capacity.  66 submissions were received for UNGI, with 12 shortlisted back in late 2019 – six pumped hydro storage, five gas and one coal power station upgrade.

It was a generally horrible scheme with a horrible acronym to accompany it, and UNGI delivered exactly 0MW of new capacity.

UNGI has been axed and $63.9 million earmarked for it is to be redirected to dispatchable storage technologies such as large-scale battery projects.

“The cheapest form of energy is firmed renewables, even more so as global coal, oil and gas prices spike,” said Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen. “The investments in the 2022-23 Budget will unlock the firmed renewable technologies necessary to drive prices downwards and keep the lights on.”

CEC: Budget “Delivers For Clean Energy”

The Clean Energy Council seemed pretty pleased with the Federal Budget. CEC CEO Kane Thornton said:

“After a decade in the energy wilderness, tonight’s Federal Budget accelerates the transition to clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy while investing heavily in the jobs and skills needed to realise that transition.”

Climate Council: Go Harder, Faster

While acknowledging the Budget is providing more support for climate initiatives than any other handed down in the last ten years, the Climate Council says Australia’s renewables transition must be further accelerated to alleviate cost of living pressures.

“This is a most welcome step forward, but far more still needs to be done,” said Climate Councillor Nicki Hutley. “We need to land a detailed, workable Safeguard Mechanism. We need to go harder and faster on the energy transition. And, we need to stop subsidising fossil fuels and approving new developments.”

350 Australia: Good Riddance To (Some) Gas Subsidies

Climate activist group 350 Australia pointed out that in addition to UNGI, other Morrison Government programs supporting gas have been ditched.

“It’s good riddance to some of these garbage gas handouts from Morrison’s bin fire of a legacy of public funds for the gas industry,” said 350 Australia Senior Campaigner Shani Tager. “These are big cuts to gas subsidies but there’s still a mega-gas handout left from Morrison’s gas cash splash.”

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.

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