The first in a series of RET Review public consultation meetings was held in Sydney yesterday.
The Oxford definition of consultation is “a formal discussion between groups of people before a decision is made about something” but apparently, that definition doesn’t apply to this process if reports on the meeting are anything to go by. A whole lot of decisions about the process and more than likely the outcome, have clearly already been made.
Rather than a constructive two way dialogue seeking ideas and inputs, the panel was by all accounts close minded to the majority of suggestions.
The panel refused to consider the suggestion of measuring the benefits of renewable energy simply saying it was “too hard to model”, despite the fact that other countries have managed to do so. In fact, we can even look in our own backyard where Horizon Power still continue to offer variable prices for exported solar energy, in recognition of the variable value. In some area’s they offer as much as $0.50c kWh.
The panel has already decided (apparently) that there will be no consideration of abatement targets, making a most staggering and impossible-to-substantiate assumption that there will be no restrictions on carbon for the next twenty years. The absurdity of that assumption beggars belief and I can’t see how the panel can defend itself as being legitimate in the face of such a pre-determined assumption about the future.
Dick Warbuton, who is heading the RET Review panel also made comments effectively confirming our recent story that the Government’s Million Solar Roof Tops scheme is already dead, referring to it as “just an election commitment with was no policy detail behind it” and specifically excluding it from its modelling assumptions until such time as it is formerly announced. Given that this panel is Government appointed and the One Million Solar Roofs program is a key (only) component of its solar support policies going forward, its not a huge leap of faith to assume that they have been instructed to leave it out for a reason.
The panel left many attendees stunned by their utter ignorance around how much capacity the renewable industry could deploy, if only we were allowed to get on with it, let alone supported in doing it. The panel suggested that “no more large renewable projects would be built in the next 18 months” and that “only 1GW-1.2GW of wind could be built each year”. This is either a terrifying prediction of how they intend to stop the industry in it’s tracks or staggeringly ignorant of what we are capable of. Ironically, they used this as an example of why the Renewable Energy Target could not be reached, which makes you wonder what the point of the review is……
I’ve taken several calls today from alarmed industry colleagues, who are fearful about the future and there’s no doubt we are still on a solar coaster ride.
I’m increasingly pessimistic and staggered by the stunningly ignorant and backwards thinking views of so many in our Government. Sure, we are sitting on some of the largest non-renewable fuel reserves in the world, but they seem utterly oblivious to the fact that they will deliver increasingly expensive energy as time passes and are making a bloody big mess of the planet along the way. And yet, we are also blessed with the largest renewable fuel reserves in the world and have the space and proximity to sell green electrons to millions of power hungry neighbors. We could and should be the centre of the new solar world.
The Minerals Council’s Stephen Galilee exemplified the desperate ignorance being spewed into the media in a last ditch attempt to satisfy shareholders yesterday, in a newspaper article. In the article Galilee said “Coal is not an optional extra. Coal is not like the sunroof on a car, something we can choose not to have if we don’t want it. Coal is necessary for modern society. Despite what Adam Bandt thinks, we need coal. We can’t live without it — and neither can he.”
Well Stephen, the simple fact of the matter is that coal could be an optional extra if we chose to make it so, and to suggest anything else is complete bullshit. Just because we used to put asbestos everywhere doesn’t mean we always should, and although it took far too long, we finally worked that out. As I mentioned in my comments on the article, my Grandad was a coal miner and is buried at Broken Hill. I have the utmost respect for all those working in the coal industry and what reliable energy has done for our way of life but suggesting that this is a reason to just keep doing to same thing for eternity is rubbish when alternatives exist, which don’t get $10Billion dollars a year in subsidies, by the way.
If they really wanted to deliver savings for the community, they should conduct a review of Fossil Fuel subsidies.
But there is good news.
The rise of renewable energy is as inevitable as the sun coming up every day. The IPCC can see it and is almost begging the world to ramp up the adoption rates. The worlds largest economies are building world leading manufacturing sectors based on solar energy employing hundreds of thousands of people. Others are deploying it at rates that are so staggering its hard to comprehend.The non re-renewable industry knows this, because their volumes are already decreasing in Australia and the community is saying no to more expansion.
And when this review is all said and done, the facts about the RET will be very, very hard to dispute unless they lie through their teeth. It costs almost nothing and delivers enormous benefits to householders, businesses, the community and our electricity networks and it has almost no direct budget cost to the Government. Ultimately, I don’t see any big political mileage in what the truth is, even of they did make cuts and in fact, I think they they’ll ostracize and anger 5 Million voters.
What ever the outcome is, its only a matter of time before we compete with even more sources of non renewable energy so all this process will do is delay the inevitable instead of taking advantage of a massive opportunity. Tragically, the outcome does seem pre-ordained.
It’s not a matter of ifit can be done. It simply takes commitment.
Photo Credit: RET Review and Delays/shutterstock