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Carbon tax approved

9th Nov 2011

Australia's peak solar industry body has welcomed the introduction of the carbon tax, which was passed in parliament yesterday (November 8).

The latest step in delivering the Gillard government's Clean Energy Future package - which also includes the $3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the $10 billion Clean Energy Fund - will "supercharge" the solar industry, according to the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES) chief executive John Grimes.

"We are finally penalising pollution and rewarding clean energy. This will deliver substantial investment in solar power and position Australia as a solar nation," Mr Grimes declared.

"Household solar, commercial solar, and Big Solar make economic and environmental sense, and their time has come."

A total of 18 Clean Energy bills were approved by the Senate, resulting in a $23-a-tonne carbon tax to be paid by 500 big polluters from July 1 next year.

The tax will begin as a fixed price before converting to an emissions trading scheme in 2015.

Greens deputy leader Christine Milne stated that the country had "turned its back on the fossil fuel past and will now move to a renewable energy-powered future".

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance predictions, the Clean Energy Future package could deliver 5 gigawatts of large-scale solar photovoltaics and 2 gigawatts of large-scale solar thermal by 2020, along with significant residential and commercial solar power.

Climate change minister Greg Combet told the ABC's 7.30 program that while Australians may be wary of a new tax, it was the responsible thing to do.

"People will recognise this is a manageable reform which has positive merits for our country," Mr Combet said.

As part of the negotiations, the Greens also secured the increase in the emissions reduction target to 80 per cent by 2050.

An independent climate authority will also be established, advising the Gillard government on the effectiveness of the carbon price and the Clean Energy Fund.

The Australian Solar Energy Society is now calling for the introduction of legislation to establish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) "as soon as possible".

As part of the Clean Energy Future package, the CEFC would drive innovation through commercial investments in clean energy through loans, guarantees and equity investments - leveraging private sector financing for renewable energy and clean technology projects.

"[We] call on the Opposition to support this important clean energy institution," Mr Grimes stated.

Posted by Bob Dawson - News Editor 

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