Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy’ Category

Renewable Energy Policy Development in Australia from 2001 to 2017

By David Holland

This article has been adapted from assignment work from a Master of Environmental  Management. Subject Environmental Policy.

Under the 1992 United Nations convention on climate change a global strategy was agreed to at the Kyoto meeting in 1997 on combating Climate Change. (European Commission Directorate-General for Research Information and Communication Unit 2003) As a result Australia committed to a series of targets, one of which was a target on renewable energy production. The Howard government agreed to a target of 20% renewable Energy production by 2020. In 2001 the government introduced the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme (MRET). (Kent 2006)

Early on within Australia, very little concern was raised about climate change issues and as a result did not drive the policy agenda for the Australian government. Only after the introduction of the MRET and investment started to flow into this area of renewable energy did the public awareness grow. Even though environmental groups were aware of climate change, it wasn’t until after 2009 when investment became unmanaged and the Gillard government had to split the MRET into two parts, one for small-scale energy systems (Small Renewable Energy Target (SRET)) and one for large-scale projects (Large Renewable Energy Target (LRET)) that public opinions became vocal. (Holland 2010)

This complication in the RET allowed a considerable political attack to be mounted by the Liberal opposition on the mismanagement of the scheme and allowed the media and parliament to build a case for climate change not being real. This started to divert public opinion away from a concerted effort by Australia to reduce carbon omissions.

By the 2013 federal election many Australians believed that climate change was not really occurring in the face of a much quieter scientific community who had the damning data that exposed the facts of not only climate change occurring but that the climate change the world was experiencing was human induced (anthropogenic) and was poised to course damage to the earths biological system.

As indicated above, originally the Australian government was under pressure from the United Nations to participate in the Kyoto protocol, however environmental groups in Australia were agitating for inclusion and action within Australia, but the softening of policy after the 2013 election was as a result of pressure put on the government by big business through impassioned advocates for the case of climate change does not exist and latter that it is not anthropogenic climate change.

As a result, the government in 2015 took the step to reduce the LRET arguing that a reduction from 41,000GwH to 26,000 GwH was an acceptable target by 2020. Parliament finally agreed on a 33,000 GwH target adjustment for large projects.

As a result of these policy changes, renewable energy investment is at risk in 2015 within Australia, while the world trend is for more investment. (Frankfurt School-UNEP Centre/BNEF. 2015) (Uibu, Katri, 2015, ABC News).

This policy change had no direct public support, but was part of a perceived mandate by the people at the 2013 federal election when the Liberal Party gained power. This election was fort over the carbon pollution reduction scheme and putting a price on carbon (Carbon Planet). After the election the new government implemented a new scheme called the carbon emissions reduction scheme, which was regulated by the Clean Energy regulator and funded by the Emissions Reduction Fund.

The real reason the government changed the way a reduction scheme would operate from a carbon market to a emissions regulation system was because businesses were seeing the costs of producing goods rising and households were seeing power prices rising.

The government has kept a lot of the detail of the Carbon Emissions Reduction scheme out of the media and as a result people have no clue as to how much money is being spent on this scheme and even what the resultant emission reductions achieved actually are. Many would be apathetic as to the efficiency of this policy and will only be outraged when they are actually told the cost of the program. (Hannam 2015)

Still there are others that are happy that their wallets are not being hit with high power prices and have no interest in the future expenses that may occur when climate change starts to affect economic circumstances out of the control of the government. (Remeikis 2015)

So the new system has quieted the public outrage of increased power prices, but there is still concern in the environmental lobby that Australia is not doing enough and not sharing enough of the burden to reduce carbon emissions. (Sturmer, Jake 2015)

As mentioned earlier the policy of the RET was introduced by the Howard government in 2001 at 9500GWh. A review in 2003 found that by 2007 the incentive to invest in renewables would decline. As a result Victoria in 2006 started a scheme called the “Victorian Renewable Energy Target”. Due to the need to give more incentive for investment the Gillard government in 2009 increased the target to 45,000 GWh, a 20% renewable mix. Later in 2009 it was found that small renewable energy projects had devalued the price of the Renewable Energy Certificates (REC)s affecting the investment returns for large scale projects. The MRET was split in February 2010 allowing 41,000 GWh for large projects with a cap on the price of a small scale REC of $40 and an allocation of 4000GWh. (Holland 2010 pp.6) (St John 2014)

Pressure on the Liberal government in 2015 by the power companies and an argument that had arisen, and argument that the LRET is impacting the budget, a proposal was put by the Liberal government that the target should be reduced to 26,000GWh by 2020. Since the LRET costs are bourn by the consumer at about 5% of the cost of electricity, it is difficult to understand how this impacts on the budget. Due to Labor Party pressure and the cross benches, parliament only reduced the LRET to 33,000GWh. (Burge 2014)

After the Labor party agreed to the 33,000 Gwh compromise in the parliament for the LRET there was considerable negative sentiment for the decision in the Labor movement. Labor members, who are a cross-section of Australia from all areas both rural and urban, and after a survey of 365 branches across Australia voted, (in most cases unanimously), to increase the target to a massive 50% by 2030, which was well publicised as a policy change by Labor as courageous. (Wade 2015)(Kenny 2015)

As we move from 2016 into 2017, little change seems to be on the horizon to address the impending impacts of climate change into the future, even as we continue to break weather records on a monthly basis which could be the canary that indicates that we are experiencing increasing effects of climate change.

 

References:

Holland, D.(2011), Renewable energy initiatives budgeted by the Gillard government, Habitat Association, https://habitatassociation.com.au/2011/06/11/renewable-energy-initiatives-budgeted-by-the-gillard-government/

Holland, D.,(2011), Influencing the Australian Federal Government on Renewable Energy Policy, Habitat Association, https://habitatassociation.com.au/2011/12/21/influencing-the-australian-federal-government-on-renewable-energy-policy/

Habitat centre for renewable energy,(2011), The introduction to Renewable Energy production on the Central Coast and Lower Hunter in New South Wales (NSW), https://habitatcenterforrenewableenergy.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/the-introduction-to-renewable-energy-production-on-the-central-coast-and-lower-hunter-and-new-south-walessw/

Anthea, Bill., Mitchell, William, Welters, R., A policy report, a just transition to a renewable energy in the hunter region, Australia, Report commissioned by Green Peace Australia Pacific, Centre for full employment, University of Newcastle, http://e1.newcastle.edu.au/coffee/pubs/reports/2008/CofFEE_Just_Transition/Just_transition_report_June_30_2008.pdf

Long, Stephen, (8th July 2014), Solar experts say Australian renewable energy investment being stifled by Government policy, ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-07/renewable-energy-investment-killed-by-government-policy/5575262

Clean Energy Council, Renewable Energy target, (2015), https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/policy-advocacy/renewable-energy-target.html

The Conversation, (July 22, 2015), How much would Labor’s 50% renewable energy policy cost Australian households?, https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/policy-advocacy/renewable-energy-target.html

Climate Council, The Australian Renewable Energy race – Which States are winning or losing, http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/ee2523dc632c9b01df11ecc6e3dd2184.pdf

Climate Council, about, https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/about-us

Holland, D. (2010) The Renewable Energy Report Card Don’t Sell Australia Short Discussion Paper, Habitat Web site, https://gallery2020publishing.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/the-renewable-energy-report-card-identification-of-renewable-energy-sources-revision.pdf

Wikipedia, Renewable Energy in Australia, Government policy, The Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Australia

European Commission Directorate-General for Research Information and Communication Unit, (2003), Renewable energy technologies and Kyoto Protocol mechanisms, United Nations, Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Printed in Belguim, http://www.eurosfaire.prd.fr/sustdev/documents/pdf/Renewable_Energy_kyoto-mechanisms_en.pdf

Kent, A., Mercer, D.(2006), Australia’s mandatory renewable energy target (MRET): an assessment , Journal Energy Policy, Vol. 34, Issue 9, Page 1046-1062, Research repository, RMIT, Publisher Elsevier Science, https://researchbank.rmit.edu.au/view/rmit:8447

Frankfurt School-UNEP Centre/BNEF.( 2015). Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2015, http://www.fs-unep-centre.org (Frankfurt am Main) Copyright © Frankfurt School of Finance & Management gGmbH 2015, http://fs-unep-centre.org/sites/default/files/attachments/key_findings.pdf

Uibu, Katri, (2015), Renewable energy investment: Government ‘sabotages’ thousands of jobs as it ends wind, solar power investment, Australian Solar Council warns , ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-13/government-‘sabotages’-thousands-of-solar-energy-sector-jobs/6615778

Carbon Planet, Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, http://www.carbonplanet.com/CPRS ,

Clean Energy Regulator, About the mechanism, http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/Infohub/CPM/About-the-mechanism

Sturmer, Jake, (14 Aug 2015), Government’s ‘substantially weaker’ emission reduction targets not enough, Climate Change Authority says, , Reported by, ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-14/emission-reduction-targets-not-enough-climate-change-authority/6699034

Wade, Felicity, (May 2015), LEAN response to CFMEU on renewable energy targets, Labor Environmental Activists Network, http://www.lean.net.au/lean_response_to_cfmeu

Hannam, Peter, (Nov 2015), Turnbull climate plan to deliver only one seventh carbon cuts: climate institute, Sydney Morning Herald,  http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/turnbull-climate-plan-to-deliver-only-oneseventh-carbon-cuts-climate-institute-20151110-gkvwx6.html#ixzz42ewVwnai

Remeikis, Amy, Electricity prices likely to drop: LNP, Labor claiming credit, 30th April 2015, Brisbane Times, http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/electricity-prices-likely-to-drop-lnp-labor-claiming-credit-20150430-1mwtee.html

Noonan,  Andie , (2015), Paris climate talks: What have world leaders had to say on climate change?, , ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-30/world-leaders-on-climate-change-ahead-of-paris-talks/6847992

COAG paper, RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET SCHEME DESIGN, https://www.coag.gov.au/sites/default/files/Renewable_Energy_Target_Scheme.pdf

St John, Alexander, Dr.(2014), The Renewable Energy Target: a quick guide , Science, Technology, Environment and Resources Section, Australian Parliament, http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1314/QG/RenewableEnergy

Burge, Ben, (19 Sep 2014),The dirty dozen myths of the RET debate , The Australian Business review, http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/9/19/renewable-energy/dirty-dozen-myths-ret-debate

 

 

 

Commentary on Australia’s Future for Renewable Energy

This is a commentary on renewable energies future by David Holland
Check out the web Blog: http://www.habitatcenterforrenewableenergy.wordpress.com

Habitat Centre for Renewable Energy

Executive Summary

This is a discussion paper about renewable energy and how Australia is placed to act on reforms to improve the uptake of renewable energy. The paper also comments on a series of letters sent to Federal Government Members and Ministers from 2006 to 2010.

The commentaries on the letters add additional information not given in these letters to the federal government. This additional information has been added with a contemporary nature relating to the year 2010.

This discussion paper has within its appendix list the actual letters sent to the federal government. In addition it has the two replies from two federal departments received from the final letter written in 2009. These letters are from the Minister for Resources and Energy and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport.

These replies outline some interesting plans for the direction of the then Rudd government and actions containing exciting programs underway. The…

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Transport for NSW Long Term Master Plan – Submission on Discussion Paper

As an advocate for both adaptive thinking and the Environment the Habitat Association for Arts and Environment has included the latest publication by one of its members, David Holland, on transport planning for New South Wales.

For those who are surfing the web from outside of Australia, New South Wales is arguably the most populous State in Australia and has a large economy in Australian terms.

This means that transport planning in New South Wales (NSW) is pivotal to the future success of that economy and the we being of the residents and workers of the State.

We may even go as far as to say that without a solid strategy for the future and new co-operation between the various transport agencies, NSW is poised to produce more transport bottleneck which will affect the states future prosperity. The submission outline three themes that Mr. Holland feels are important for the way forward. They are sustainability, security and reliability.

The submission not only looks at very practical aspects of providing a sustainable public transport system, but also sustainable ways to operate transport systems into the future. This is highlighted in the approach related to handling freight. The submission proposes a logical but revolutional way to handle freight service between regions and between other Australian States.

The use of renewable energy in the rail system is touched on as a way for the State to meet renewable energy targets.

The Central Coast of NSW is referred to in much of the submission. David believes that regional Australia is often left out of detailed transport planning processes because of the assumption that all commuting, as has been traditionally the case, is flowing to and from the Sydney metropolitan areas. With the slow but steady improvement of job opportunities in the regions, more and more commuting is being done intra-regionally. This means that public transport services should not only accommodate this trend but transport planning should drive this trend, providing appropriate infrastructure to give greater opportunity for regional investment in the growing regional economic powerhouses of the Illawarra, the Central Coast, the far west of Sydney around Penrith and the Blue Mountains, and the south west of Sydney around Campbelltown.

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Influencing the Australian Federal Government on Renewable Energy Policy

English: Greenchoice is a renewable-energy sup...

By David Holland

During the year 2006 the local federal member for Dobell NSW sent a letter to his constituents asking them to write to him outlining any issues that concern them.  Not to be deterred by never taking up such an opportunity before, I wrote back to the member detailing some of my concerns regarding the direction of policy, than currently being followed by the Howard government, and outlined some of the opportunities useful for Australia to follow in efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emission and create a more sustainable way to produce energy for domestic, industrial and automotive uses within Australia.

The member was a liberal party MP and impressed enough with the letter to pass it on to the then Minster for the Environment, however no letter was forthcoming from that the Minister in reply to the local member.

Not to be deterred in those troublesome times of ‘Work Choices’, a policy by the Howard government to reorganize the Australian workforce, a policy that was soon to topple that government, I wrote to the shadow minister for the environment, the Hon. Peter Garret, who responded to my letter.

Then on the eve of the 2007 election, a repackaged letter adding a considerable amount of new information was sent directly to the opposition leader, who was soon to sweep into power as the Prime Minister, The Hon. Kevin Rudd.

Due to the amount of work this new Labor PM was about to do, I was not expecting any response in the near future, however I was confident that this letter was at least read, if not influential on the new government’s policy direction.

During the next 12 months from November 2007, I noticed that policy was set in the right direction for renewable energy to become a major player in Australian Energy production, but somehow real on the ground actions and expenditures were not supporting the policy move towards renewable energy. The global financial crisis had caused a lot of money that I had hoped to be used to support the move to cleaner energy, to be spent on a range of other projects. Some quite important infrastructure projects, and other projects related to energy consumption that would have limited value in the long-term towards any real change to Australia’s mix of energy sources.

As a result, in 2009, I sent another, completely new letter to Prime Minister Rudd, encouraging action towards real change to Australia’s energy mix, this time high lighting transport applications for sustainable fuels and modifications to infrastructure to support change.

After the change to the Prime Minister ship in 2009, I resolved to refocus my effort by giving a full and detailed update on all the letters sent the government, and outline the level of achievement Australia had made up until 2010 as a way of demonstrating, the change already underway caused by the government’s policy settings.

The articles are referenced below:

Following these two articles being sent to Prime Minister Gillard, I received two letters from the government. The first was from the office of Prime Minister Gillard, the detail of which is available on the following link.

The second letter was from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. The article below was written around the contents of the letter from the Department, which outlines the direction of the actions expected by the Gillard government in the near future to encourage the implementation of renewable energy uptake within the Australian industry.

Reply Letter from the Office of the Hon. Martin Ferguson AM MP, Minister for Resources and Energy 20 Jul 2011

Following is a researched explanation of the above letter.

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New Centre for the Habitat Association, The Habitat Centre for Renewable Energy

The Habitat Association is proud to announce the coming online of “The Habitat Centre for Renewable Energy”.

With the large amount of interest in this subject under our Gallery2020 Publishing blog site we have decided to open our Centre for Renewable Energy to be used as a central location for discussion about developments in renewable technology.

It is a site that the Habitat Association has dedicated for Habitat Association for Arts and Environment members to contribute articles containing interesting facts, developments and new technologies to the world.

Click here to access this new blog site.

Renewable energy initiatives budgeted by the Gillard government

With an informative reply from the director of the co-ordination and renewable energy branch of the Department of Climate Change and Renewable Energy Efficiency we learn that over $5 billion dollars have been set aside for research and business development for the development of renewable energy initiatives in Australia through the Gillard governments within the Clean Energy Initiative to be administered by the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy.

The flagship of this enterprising funding is the Solar flagship program which will fund one solar voltaic renewable energy project and one solar thermal energy generation project. The funds allocated to this is $1.5 billion.

In addition the government’s  Clean Energy Initiative is drawing together $560 million under the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) to encourage development of project research efforts that can be implemented into viable product to produce electrical renewable power for Australia’s future energy needs.

ACRE is promoting not only renewable energy generators by innovative storage systems similar to the Ammonia Energy Storage system of Wizard Power.

Another $100 million dollars as part of the ACRE initiatives is allocated under the Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund to help support private investment in critical early stage investments for the development of emerging renewable technologies.

The last program mentioned in the reply letter, but probably at least the most important is the building of supporting infrastructure for the emerging renewable energy industry in Australia. Without extensive government investment in this crucial area of infrastructure, few projects remain viable away from the existing electricity grid. Private investment is unlikely to provide capital for this type of visionary but risky type of venture. With $1 billion invested by the federal government under the Connecting Renewables program and a commitment to see the project finished, operational and utilised by the renewable energy industry, the government is committed to build new electricity connections over the next ten years to remote areas where higher levels of solar, wind and other renewable energy supplies are available.

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Australia’s Renewable Energy Report Card 2010

The following paper is a designed as a discussion paper on the progress of the uptake of renewable energy in Australia.  The purpose of the paper is to highlight the progress Australia has made under government policy settings up to and including 2010.

Under the Renewable Energy Credit scheme (REC) important changes have been made in the variety of renewable energy sources now being used to produce electric power. These are detailed in the paper and include, wind powered generation plants, solar hydro energy plant to produce steam fed directly into existing power station turbines, solar photovoltaic cells to produce domestic power, wave energy utilization to produce power for desalination plant applications, tidal power to produce grid power in various locations around the continent, thermal or hot rock installations to harness heat energy to produce base load grid electrical power and a cutting edge form of power generation known as convection energy systems.

Convection energy is sourced simply by harnessing the power of rising hot air. Some of these convection power plants are designed to be enormous. The paper outlines how at least one United States of America (USA) state has embraced this technology that was first developed in Australia.

The paper also introduces a little thought of area of power generation known as micro renewable energy power systems. These are systems that might be called scavenger power system. The paper explores a range of applications that could be implemented to use power that is a byproduct of other applications and processes to generate power; systems similar to water or sewage flowing down conduits or the process of decomposition within a waste dump. These micro generating systems use available resources to generate electricity.

The paper touches on a new technology in its infancy where the applications are not fully realized or evaluated. This technology utilized vibration to produce small amounts of electrical energy. At present this technology has only produced one commercially viable product, but even this application of the technology has enormous potential.

The paper explains the introduction of RECs, and how the federal government introduced a correction to the scheme to avoid a collapse of the REC trading market. It introduces the New South Wales Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme. This scheme allows domestic generating power systems to be connected to the main grid enabling this power to be bought by the grid power supplier. This renewable power is then sold on to other power uses. This seems to be a good idea, but when it comes to larger non-domestic producers like local councils the power companies disallow these systems to be connected into the grid through the FIT scheme.

The paper finally shows some inequity in this type of policy, highlighting that with a more flexible approach to organizations like local councils, opportunities of collaboration between the power companies and councils could better utilize unused power available in scavenger power systems when power demands are higher than the supply from renewable sources. This means that at these times of high demand, power companies will need to source electrical energy from conventional sources such as coal fired power stations, diesel generators or gas turbine plants connected to the grid.

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