Tony Abbott : Solar And Wind “Intermittent And Unreliable Power”

Tony Abbott - Global Warming Policy Foundation

Tony Abbott painted an interesting picture in his speech | Image via Facebook

In his speech to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London, Australia’s ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott expressed little love for renewables again – particularly wind and solar power.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation is an organisation that claims to be open-minded on the “contested” science of global warming. The Foundation states it is concerned with the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated to address climate change.

In his speech, Mr. Abbott bemoaned Australia’s progress on renewable energy, appearing to suggest it was the primary culprit for power price rises. He also said due to “green ideology”, Australia can’t be sure of keeping the lights on this summer.

“Hydro aside, renewable energy should properly be referred to as intermittent and unreliable power,” said Mr. Abbott. “When the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, the power doesn’t flow. Wind and solar power are like sailing ships; cheaper than powered boats, to be sure, but we’ve stopped using sail for transport because it couldn’t be trusted to turn up on time.”

However, he did make fleeting reference to batteries, an option becoming increasingly common in supporting renewables due to plummeting cost of energy storage. There’s also the prospect of economical pumped hydro storage for non-hydro renewables, with 22,000+ potential sites across Australia recently identified.

As for power price rises, RenewEconomy stated in July an Australian Council Of Social Services (ACOSS) report found a decade of energy policy instability has been a significant contributor, with a major driver of wholesale electricity price increases being the Abbott Coalition government’s winding back of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target and repeal of the national carbon price.

In a speech delivered at the National Press Club in September, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims said the drivers of increased retail electricity prices have been:

  • network (poles and wires) prices (41%)
  • higher retail costs and margins (24%)
  • generation costs (19%)
  • green scheme costs (16%).

Mr. Abbott also made a somewhat curious point about subsidies for wind and solar, carrying on from his recent comments on the topic.

“A market that’s driven by subsidies rather than by economics always fails. Subsidy begets subsidy until the system collapses into absurdity. In Australia’s case, having subsidised renewables, allegedly to save the planet; we’re now faced with subsidising coal, just to keep the lights on.”

The coal sector was in receipt of subsidies well prior to wind and solar arriving on the scene and has continued to. Whether it’s a tax deduction or otherwise, it’s still a subsidy by any other name.

Mr Abbott’s wish list per his speech:

  • No subsidies for new “intermittent power” and a freeze on the Renewable Energy Target.
  • A government-built coal-fired power station.
  • An end to gas bans.
  • An end to a ban on nuclear power.

This barely scratches the surface of Mr. Abbott’s speech, the transcript of which can be viewed here. It may be remembered as a fascinating foray into alternative facts and omissions.

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. Terry Werner says

    We are already subsidising coal … there is no pollution tax on the products of combustion (when you burn coal you have to make carbon dioxide, making coal fundamentally “dirty”). Coal generated electricity is priced too cheaply because it doesn’t include the cost of mitigating its damage. Renewables are our only option for the future, so we’d be well advised to up the investment in this area to get them to meet our energy demands reliably – that means storage. Batteries, small scale pumped hydro (not the Snowy), thermal solar etc. Endless possibilities exist and could be developed if only this lamentable, backward-looking federal government would get out of the way of renewables, create a stable investment environment and let the market do its work. Isn’t that what liberal governments are meant to do?

  2. Pat Comerford says

    Abbort is a moron why even report what he says or thinks. He is totally irrelevant to the future of this country.

  3. TJ Roberts says

    Another government shill that needs to be jailed. Abbot’s pockets are lined with money from coal, gas and other dirty energy industries money; I wonder how much he got paid to give that speech, and who paid him to give it. Solar, wind and storage is the way.

  4. Abbot is a numpty. A nut job. He’s yesterday’s man and he knows it. We know it. The winds of change are upon us and there is nothing these spruikers of fossil fuel can do to stop this inevitable change.

    So chill out folks. Ignore the deniers and enjoy the renewable ride as it starts out on the journey ahead. Exciting times!

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