Clean Energy Target Dumped For National Energy Guarantee

Tony Abbott - Coal fan

Mr. Abbott said the CET’s dumping was “progress”. | Image: via Facebook

It’s a done deal. The Australian Government has dumped Dr. Alan Finkel’s recommendation of a Clean Energy Target in favour of a “National Energy Guarantee”,  which will see coal power hanging around for a lot longer and renewable energy subsidies end.

In a report released this afternoon, with the very optimistic title of “Powering forward: A better energy future for Australia“, the Turnbull Government says its plan will ensure “the right investment in the right place at the right time” and specifically states there will be an ongoing place for coal.

The NEG will require retailers to have a certain amount of dispatchable power available at all times (e.g. from coal) and a percentage of their power sourced from low emissions technology such as renewables  – or “efficient gas”.

An emissions guarantee will also be set to contribute to Australia’s Paris commitment. The level of the guarantee will be determined by the Commonwealth and enforced by the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). The level set will be crucial in determining how much coal gets a look in going forward.

In a video posted to Facebook just after midday, Prime Minister Turnbull says:

“These guarantees will ensure there is a place for all power sources in the nation’s energy mix – solar, wind, coal, gas, batteries, pumped hydro. Our plan has no subsidies, no certificates and no tax. It doesn’t involve the Government picking winners – it is truly technology-neutral.”

Based on advice it says it has received from the Energy Security Board, the Government says the Guarantee *could* lead to a reduction in residential electricity bills in the range of $100–115 per year over the 2020–2030 period.

A media release from the PM’s Office states:

“Coal, gas, hydro and biomass will be rewarded for their dispatchability while wind, solar and hydro will be recognised as lower emissions technologies, but will no longer be subsidised.”


Update: Oct. 19 – As to any impact on Australia’s “solar rebate” for small scale systems, it’s become a little murky if that will continue as normal; i.e. it will be gradually phased out. We contacted the Department of Environment and Energy for clarification on this point on Tuesday, but still haven’t had a response. According to a Financial Review report, there will be no change to the Renewable Energy Target.


The National Energy Guarantee will reportedly result in renewable energy making up between 28 and 36 per cent by 2030, far less than Labor’s target of 50% by the same year.

Even before full details of the National Energy Guarantee were publicly released, the move away from a Clean Energy Target came under heavy attack.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten was quick to criticise the PM’s backflip on the CET – and pointed his finger at Tony Abbott as playing a key role. Mr. Abbott recently stated he wanted to see more coal power, an end to subsidies for new “intermittent” renewables and a freeze on the Renewable Energy Target.

“It looks like Tony Abbott’s won and the Chief Scientist, lower prices and climate change have come second,” said Mr. Shorten in a brief ABC News interview early this morning. “Malcolm Turnbull knows that the Chief Scientist’s report is the way to go. Four months ago he was endorsing a clean energy target, now he’s dropped the lot.”

The Clean Energy Council said the Government had blown a golden opportunity.

“The Federal Government’s decision to walk away from a Clean Energy Target (CET) is likely to result in a substantial slowdown in new clean energy investment, meaning power prices will keep rising and voters will continue switching off.”

Greens leader Dr. Richard Natale blasted the Prime Minister.

“Malcolm Turnbull is showing a complete failure of leadership – leading the most pro-coal, anti-renewable government in Australian history.”

Liberal backbencher Craig “Renewables Kill” Kelly is reportedly quite chuffed about it all and has also suggested the Government delay action on hitting Paris climate targets until closer to 2030.

As for Mr. Abbott, he tweeted:

“Progress at today’s party room. The Clean Energy Target has been definitively dropped.”

The party room welcomed the new plan, with Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg applauded after delivering a speech explaining the details.

The Government says it will now work with the Energy Security Board and the states through COAG to implement the National Energy Guarantee.

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.


  1. I expect they will need to set up a new joint industry / regulator advisory body to oversee the implementation of this new policy.

    Might I suggest Coal Utilisation for National Transmission Security? Tony and his lot would fit right in.

  2. Colin Hoving says

    Would you mind starving this guy of oxygen and not showing his face ever again? Please do your bit to make him as anonymous as possible

  3. Bret Busby says

    So, the golem still has the ring that controls the others.

    The photograph, with the evil grin, is interesting – an incarnation of the anti-christ, from a horror movie.

    Is a statistic available, for how many early deaths are caused for each ton of coal that is burnt? From memory, with the move in Europe, away from combustion-powered motor vehicles, numbers have been published, for the number of early deaths caused by particular combustion engine types, for example, diesel fuelled motor vehicles.

  4. Hmmmm. The government is being technology agnostic. Which, in a way is good for renewables because even without subsidies in a lot of cases it is lower cost than fossil fuel generation. Plus, renewables are expected to keep falling in cost. In a way this proposal is saving the Australian tax payer from forking out for renewable subsidies. If renewable projects still stack up without subsidies, you can say goodbye to fossil fuel generation anyway.

    Dispatchable doesn’t have to be coal or gas – it can be battery or pumped hydro.

    While I would have liked more help for renewables, the proposal could have been a lot worse. This proposal is basically saying the energy industry can choose the best option but guarantee supply. The unfortunate fact is there has to be a necessary changeover period from fossil fuel to renewables.

  5. “A media release from the PM’s Office states:

    “Coal, gas, hydro and biomass will be rewarded for their dispatchability

    So, I wonder, how many people does Trumpbull’s caveman government intend to dispatch, through his deliberately poisoning the air through the use of gratuitous combustion (“I love the smell of things burning in the morning”)?

    Reminds me of Carousel, in the movie Logan’s Run.

    That involved dispatchability.

    And, in thinking about it, Carousel DID involve combustion.

  6. I guess it’s no surprise from Abbott, my Dad (who lives in Armidale NSW) says he is a loathsome creature 🙂

    I’m pretty shocked that government routinely turns away from the experts, often the very same people they have recruited to produce the report or study in the first place.

    I’m back in the UK, after 6 years living in Australia, where I thought the grants and loans for sustainable energy were quite generous, far better than here in England.

    I suspect that has all died a death now and the Abbott government, as with all governments in the end, is in the pocket of the lobbyists for big business.

    It’s shocking, and I sincerely hope that the hundreds of thousands of people who are protesting around the country shake things up and force the government to listen.

    Good luck!

  7. “Done deal”? Let’s see if they get it through the senate if legislation is required. Hopefully not.

  8. Bret Busby says

    The Loony Neanderthal Party’s (LNP’s) Neanderthal Environmental Goof (NEG) might not make it to the senate, If we get a double dissolution election from the referrals to the federal court of disputed returns.

    We can always hope.

    Then we would be less likely to be expected to eat the Neanderthal genetically engineered potatoes, like the one held by the Neanderthal in the photograph published at×2-940×627.jpg

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