The renewable energy debate we had to have

solar debate

Tony Abbott and Clive Palmer. Mass Debaters?

For me, the words that best summed up a remarkable week for renewable energy came from SolarQuotes Facebook reader Anthony Fogarty. A veteran of the solar industry, Anthony made the point that the current debate raging in the Australian Senate has seen clean energy being discussed in the mainstream like never before. The unexpected (if flaky) support for green energy by unlikely characters in the Palmer United Party and Ricky Muir — the motoring enthusiast turned senator — has seen the focus put squarely on our clean energy future. Are we now seeing the renewable energy debate we had to have? More importantly, where to from here?

As Anthony points out, “…for the first time people are actually talking about renewables in the mainstream and most are starting to see through the misinformation they have been getting from this government… the more they deny the stupider they look…”.

Anthony’s is a significant point: that the renewable energy debate that has been so lacking in Australia is now thundering out across our media of choice. Indeed should the government call the bluff of the Senate and call a double dissolution, we would have what many would have considered unthinkable just a few short months ago: an election dominated by energy policy.

The renewable energy debate so far has been dominated by those with the most money in their pockets. The fossil fuel energy companies and their lobbyists have launched a smorgasbord of lies as they seek to influence the renewable energy target (RET) review process. As discussed in last week’s Four Corners program, the claim by energy companies that the doubling in price of electricity is due to green energy initiatives such as the RET and the carbon tax has been proven to be incorrect (to put it mildly).

As we have covered before, over 80 percent of the increase in our energy bills has been due to over investment in infrastructure (such as poles and wires) and a failure to understand the marketplace.

However the strategy of repeating a lie often enough to become accepted as fact seems to have worked for the big energy companies, with their supporters in think tanks, the media and in parliament. Indeed their message — that clean energy is entirely the cause of the price hike — is repeated by folks like our PM who should, and probably do, know better.

However while we have made major progress in putting the renewable energy debate on the table for mainstream discussion instead of being solely blasted with big energy companies’ propaganda, a great deal will depend on the next stage. Whether or not the weight of lobbying pressure will swing the debate back in favour of FossilFuelCentral (FFC). However there’s no doubt that clean energy has won over many in the course of the last few weeks with the potential to win over many more as the true message filters through: that clean energy is NOT the cause of electricity price hikes and should be supported as a vital component of Australia’s energy future.

So are we are witnessing the big renewable energy debate we had to have? Will the current debate serve to out the energy company lies? Or will the drumbeat of FFC propaganda win out? The answer, in the short term, may lie with a bunch of part-time senators who are shaping as holding the message and the future of clean energy in Australia in their legislative hands.


  1. —keep up the pressure Rich—keep it up!

  2. fabulous blog. The PM does know. He just wants his mates to flourish and to hell with the planet

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