Coalition, Labor, Greens and the future of energy in 2018

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As part of our end-of-year offerings, and with a view to 2018, we thought we’d invite the energy spokesmen for the three main parties to have their say on the New Year.

We asked each of them “what looks exciting in energy in 2018. Or not …. And is it going to be good, bad or indifferent on new technologies, policy etc.”

We asked them to limit their comments to 250 words. Not everyone kept to their limit. This is what they sent back:

Josh Frydenberg: Federal energy and environment minister

josh frydenbergIt has been a big year in the energy sector and 2018 is looking no different.

Building on the Finkel Review we have seen the development of the National Energy Guarantee – a significant breakthrough that combines reliability and emissions reduction into a single mechanism.

It represents the best advice from the experts from the Energy Security Board to properly integrate climate and energy policy for the first time, resulting in a more affordable and reliable energy system as we transition to a lower emissions future.

It has received wide support from stakeholders, with the BCA saying that “the government’s plan… is the most practical, workable thing we’ve seen in business for quite some time;” and Bloomberg New Energy Finance saying “the concept is innovative and elegant.”

Large energy users like BlueScope and BHP, energy companies like AGL, Energy Australia and Origin, and groups like the National Farmers Federation, have also voiced their support for the Guarantee.

In a positive development the COAG Energy Council has agreed to do further work on the National Energy Guarantee into next year, with both Coalition and Labor governments coming together.

In terms of renewable investment, around 50 projects are either under construction or have been completed this year representing $9.3 billion of investment and more than 4,670MW of large-scale renewable capacity.

In 2018 ARENA and the CEFC will continue to invest in a significant range of innovative projects like the recent $29 million R&D round and this summer’s demand response trial while the government will progress Snowy 2.0.

Mark Butler, ALP shadow minister for climate change and energy:mark butler

2018 is a crucial year for climate change and energy after a tumultuous 2017.

The 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET) is winding down and, while it will support new renewable investment for the next year, Australia desperately needs a new pro-renewables energy policy to support continued investment in new generation post 2020.

After rejecting an EIS in late 2016, the government tasked Chief Scientist Alan Finkel to design a new energy policy through the Finkel Review.

After working on The Finkel review throughout the first half of 2017 on detailed design, the critical recommendation of the panel was to adopt a Clean Energy Target (CET). But this policy was ultimately rejected by the Turnbull government, for no reason other than it was perceived as too pro-renewables by the Coalition party room.

In place of the CET, the government have proposed an under-developed National Energy Guarantee (NEG) policy, with no consultation with industry or states which will need to implement any NEG.

While the rushed, under-developed and secret development of the NEG raises significant issues, these are eclipsed by what we know the government wants the NEG to deliver.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) have concluded the government’s NEG will “decimate” large scale renewable investment, with only 1.5GW in new renewable generation to 2030.

This represents a fall of 95 per cent in annual large-scale renewable investment, compared to what Australia is seeing in the lead up to the end of the 2020 RET.

2017 was also meant to be the year the government finally presents a new climate change policy through their Climate Change Review; capable of delivering on 2030 emission reduction targets.

In the shadow of a Cabinet reshuffle, the mid-year budget review, and while Australians are busy doing their last-minute Christmas shopping, (Frydenberg) has snuck out the 2017 report on Australia’s carbon pollution levels. When you look at those numbers you really do start to understand why he would sneak them out, because they are a shocking set of numbers.

The report from the government confirms that Australia will not meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the UN protocol on climate change. Australia committed to cut its carbon pollution levels under that protocol by 5 per cent between 2000 and 2020.

This report confirms that by 2020 our carbon pollution levels will not have reduced at all against 2000 levels. Indeed, if you excluded accounting changes in forestry and land-use our pollution levels would  be much worse than they were in 2000.

The long-awaited Climate Change Review contemplates that if anything, the Turnbull government wants to make it easier for bigger polluters to start to increase their pollution levels, not to get them down.

In 2018, Australia should see the announcement and implementation of sensible climate change and energy policy; to drive deep cuts in pollution across the whole economy, and to support the transition of the electricity sector.

Unfortunately, it looks likely we’ll see more of the same chaos in 2018 as we became used to through 2017.

Rather than credible policy that will cut pollution, we’re more likely to see blaming rather than supporting renewables, no credible climate change policy, no vehicle emission standards, no national energy efficiency policy, no policy to help the transition in the electricity sector and no fall in carbon pollution.

Under the Turnbull government, when it comes to tackling climate change as well as our energy crisis in 2018, Australia should be prepared for more of the disappointments they became used to in 2017.

Adam Bandt: Greens climate and energy spokesmanTPqJxO9q copy

The debate over a future for coal is largely over and 2018 will be the year of energy storage and the future of the grid, as utility-scale batteries show the way, the economics for household storage starts to stack up and engineering-driven planning returns.

Regardless of where the government’s NEG lands, the real debate will be about where to put the new generation and how to connect it into the grid as the avalanche of new renewable projects continue. This will mean renewable energy zones and a big focus on the transmission and interconnection required.

The future for producing and exporting solar fuels will become more clear as the potential for hydrogen exports or direct transmission of renewables is really taken up by governments and business.

As transport emissions continue to grow, the government will have to stop sitting on its hands and move on emission standards and incentives for electric vehicles, or risk continuing to fall behind the rest of the world.

Climate change will also return to the public debate with a vengeance as extreme weather hits and the reality of the government’s policy vacuum is highlighted. The national security implications of climate change will be a feature of the debate and the need for stronger and faster action to safeguard our future.  

  • neroden

    Fraudenberg’s statement is pathetic. I guess he has to toe the party line.

    • Mike Westerman

      Not if he had an ounce of integrity…pretty clear he doesn’t

  • John Herbst

    Josh: “…energy companies like AGL, Energy Australia and Origin, … have also voiced their support for the Guarantee.”

    Yes, large businesses support policy which cripples smaller competition. We want to know why YOU support it.

  • Joe

    Since SA is leading the country with ‘New Energy’ projects like the NEW big battery and the promised NEW solar thermal it would have been great to also hear from Premier Jay as to his thoughts about the New Energy future.

    • solarguy

      Yeah I would like to hear from Jay……………the goer and the doer!

  • Ren Stimpy

    Sorry Josh but the ‘best advice’ was from your Chief Scientist who recommended a CET. But you and your politically motivated boss Mal rejected that good advice. Actually it was great advice! That you rejected.

    So what was the “NEXT BEST” thing…. who the fuck cares what the next best thing is. Call it a NEG, call it a blowfly on a horse’s arse. No difference really.

    • Peter Campbell

      Actually, it was only the best advice that could be given in circumstances when the best, second best and third best options had all been ruled out already.

      • Ren Stimpy

        Agree with that. I really liked the carbon tax, for two reasons 1) It worked and really well. 2) It came with a large personal income tax cut which far outweighed the carbon tax itself.

        With the CET Finkel was trying to develop a figleaf with teeth, so by walking such a fine line it was probably destined to be rejected one way or another.

        • Peter Campbell

          Ouch. Considering where a fig leaf is worn, no wonder they didn’t want it to have teeth!

      • Ren Stimpy

        Carbon Tax

        …in reducing order on a logarithmic scale of effectiveness.

        • Peter Campbell

          ETS (aka carbon ‘tax’, intended to revert to floating price after the initial fixed price period)

          • Mike Westerman

            CoG (change of government!)
            $ on carbon (traded or levied)
            Time of RE availability FIT (small and large scale)
            RET extension
            Do nothing
            Bulldoze national parks
            Re-elect LNP

          • Ren Stimpy

            Correct EIS not CTS. Emissions Intensity Scheme.

            ETS, I’m kind of dubious if it could’ve still worked once the quite fixed and effective Carbon Tax was blown asunder in order to adapt to a sketchy Euro carbon market.

            Nothing still beats the Carbon Tax for my oranges. I would have rather it stayed at its fixed/indexed price where it was most effective, and still be watching it succeed while counting the personal income tax cuts on the other side of the equation that it delivered. And shoving all that up the arse of every Spongebob Conservative Pants who doesn’t know their personal income tax arse from their carbon tax elbow..

          • Just_Chris

            I think that a carbon tax in the absolute purest form is by far the most effective and attractive option imaginable. Just tax it, all of it, transport fuels, CO2 electricity generators, Cement makers, ammonia plants, farming, imported goods, land fill, ALL OF IT – if it causes climate change tax it proportionally to the damage that it does. Governments are not profit making organizations use the additional tax revenue to 1 – reduce income tax to low earners, 2 – help Australian industry transition to lower emissions.

  • Ken Dyer

    I have posted this graph in a couple of comments, because it really sums up the difference between the COALition and Labor/Greens.

    Now that the COALition permits the purchase of overseas carbon credits by Australian businesses, any guesses as to where the graph is going to go in coming years?

    • Joe

      Who was it that railed against the ability of companies purchasing o’seas carbon credits when Julia / Labor implemented The ETS?….One guess…The COALition!!!!!!

  • Radbug

    In 2018, look out for perovskite PV panels and non-lithium stationary storage batteries.

  • John Saint-Smith

    Easy to see who didn’t exceed the 250 word limit. Joshie has learned the Lazy Negative Party mantra:
    ” Government consists of reacting to the current crisis with knee-jerk responses.”

    Forward planning is just not in their DNA.

    The electorate’s choice is clear – progress with Labor and the Greens, or slip quietly back into the 19th Century with the LNP.

    Australia is better than this.

    • Joe

      …but New England and Bennelong reckon the status quo is All Good.

      • John Saint-Smith

        We fear the unfamiliar.

        • Joe

          Right now I have great fear of the all too familiar COALition.