Coalition government 'could spell bad news for solar'

26th Jun 2013

The general election is slowly creeping up on us, with the possibility of a new government gaining traction.

Prime minister Julia Gillard has revealed that the election will take place on September 14 (although the latest date it could be held is November 30).

The most recent figures show that Tony Abbott's Coalition are ahead in the polls – an increasingly common occurrence in recent months.

Newspoll revealed Abbott's party has 43.6 per cent of the vote, compared with Gillard's 38 per cent.

So what ramifications will a new government have on renewable technology investment and development?

One industry expert has argued there are five very real ways in which a Coalition government could bring green energy growth to its knees.

Giles Parkinson, editor of sustainable news provider Reneweconomy, wrote in an article for the site that there are already signs that even the potential of having Abbott in government is creating a drag on investment.

"There is huge pressure on the Coalition from within its own ranks, the conservative state governments, the incumbent energy industry, and numerous conservative think tanks to take action to curb the expansion of renewables," he stated.

Here are Giles' top predictions for the potential pitfalls of an Abbott-led government:

Abolishing the carbon price: This won't be a surprise to many. Abbott has made it a central platform of his campaign to repeal the legislation, which will not only make the Renewable Energy Target (RET) more expensive, but could see electricity prices rise anyway.

Removing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC): The Coalition has also indicated that CEFC contracts may be rescinded – putting large scale solar projects in jeopardy.

Canning the Climate Change Authority: The CCA stood up for the RET – dismissing many allegations against it as self-interest (typically from energy providers who would be out of pocket). The Coalition has shown an interest in bringing this independent agency 'in-house'. Effectively making it a partisan operation.

Diluting the RET (or removing it completely): Abbott has claimed his party offers support for the initiative, but Parkinson noted that the Liberal Party leader has failed to give any sufficient details on how he would go about this.

The Coalition has called for more frequent reviews of the scheme that could spell doom should utilities persuade the government it's worth scrapping.

Goodbye Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA): Probably one of the 'safer' organisations (typically because it is involved with research, rather than rolling out technologies that hurt big business).

However, Abbott has revealed a new policy for the agency – but is tight-lipped on what this may entail.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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