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Coalition says it will seek more cuts to clean energy programs

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The Coalition government says it will seek more cuts to clean energy programs, and may even slash prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s signature Clean Energy Innovation Fund to make up for the compromise it was forced to strike on the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

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Mathias Cormann demonstrates the size of ARENA’s new budget.

Within hours of announcing it would strip $500 million of funds from ARENA in a deal struck with Labor – rather than the $1.3 billion it originally sought – finance minister Mathias Cormann and innovation minister Greg Hunt were flagging cuts to the $1 billion CEIF, unveiled by Turnbull in a blaze of publicity in March.

Cormann told Sky News: “Labor has asked for us to restore $800m of that for grants funding. So we will do that, but the capital available to the Clean Energy Innovation Fund will be reduced accordingly.”

Hunt followed up with in a separate interview on Sky News: “The net result here is that there’ll be some balancing between the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, which was debt and equity, in other words, loans and investment by the Commonwealth.”

The comments prompted Greens climate change spokesman Adam Bandt to say that Labor had “been played for fools,” in agreeing to cut half a billion dollars from ARENA. “Far from saving clean energy, Labor just did a dirty deal with the Liberals to gut renewables,” he said.

Cormann was forced to row back on his reflex response later, presumably when it was pointed out to him that the Coalition could not simply dip its hand into the CEIF kitty, and stripping money from Turnbull’s pet innovation project might not be such a good look.  Nor was it part of the deal with Labor, as he had suggested.


It is important to note here that Cormann was the Coalition’s chief negotiator with Labor on the detail of the agreement, yet his comments to parliament and to Sky News were wrong on several counts.

The original ARENA cuts were not – as he suggested – to be the source of funds for the CEIF, which will make equity investment and offer cheap finance rather than make grants. This money was simply appropriated from the $10 billion set aside for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

And the CEIF could not be easily stripped of funds. That would require another bill to go through parliament, and would be subject to another deal with Labor.

Environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg on Wednesday morning said the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation funding, which includes the CEIF, will stand. At least for the moment.

The key for ARENA and its ongoing activities will be when the $500 million take place, if it is pushed to the outer years, it won’t make much difference, but if it impacts coming years, then its activities could be significantly curtailed.

Apart from revealing a staggering ignorance about his own portfolio and the structure of the government’s finance, Cormann’s reflex comments – along with Hunt’s – provide an insight into exactly how the Coalition views clean energy initiatives and spending. The war is not over yet.

   

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  • Tom Swann

    The government press release said $550m of the retained funding would be within estimates – 2017-18 onwards

  • Kenshō

    The war won’t be over anytime soon, as the problem is developmental and developmental psychologists are still mapping out exactly how human awareness unfolds and through what stages. Since no individuals character will instantly change with rational argument and presenting facts, the problem is likely to persist while those same politicians remain there. If we step it back once more, elections resulted in such a balance of power which then requires the developmental journey of all of us.

    • Chris Fraser

      … just like some politicians have to figure out what empirical evidence really is and how to recognise it when their face is rubbed in it.

    • Mark Roest

      Also referring to your comment in the other article (by Giles), the conservatives are operating at the level of social validation as key driver; it’s identity politics, and the identity is Riane Eisler’s Dominator Paradigm, to which she posits the Partnership Paradigm. Their thing is also called playing hardball; it was also called Realpolitik before WWI. The idea of realizing you are in a fight for all that you hold dear, and changing economic reality as fast as you can, by direct action, both at the community level and in business at all scales, is a good strategy. It complements political strategy.

      • Kenshō

        Yes the majority of it is teams being aligned based upon identity and social validation/ideology. This field appears to be getting almost completely polarised. The old guard getting so fear based, hanging on for fear of death of everything and all assets ever held dear. The new understanding that change needs to happen anyway or we lose it all anyway. The fossil fuel lobby is of course wanting to maintain their hegemony for as long as they can and seeking to dominate the field rather than compete with new technologies. So sides have been drawn up. Perhaps Paris set it off or exasperbated it.
        I agree the solution is community networking throughout all levels – a partnership model. Divided the community is conquered. Group-work is powerful so it really is needed for sidelined people to get together in some way. I agree your approach is fantastic.
        I’m also suggesting a person should not have to install 6x powerwalls or be the first with a new technology to tell their story. We need a constant stream of positive success stories. From this a knowledge base could form around how to combat challenges at all levels, policy and every level of tangible project throughout every sector.

        • Ren Stimpy

          I used to respect you but it seems you are just a robot troll! Oh

          Kenshō what have I been sticking my dick into all this time?

          • Kenshō

            You’ll thank me. You’ll be sharper next time.

          • Ren Stimpy

            But you told me I made you sharp.

          • Kenshō

            So enemies can learn from each other.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Yes I suppose genuine thought posters can learn from egregious trolls.

          • Kenshō

            Nothing would happen on this topic or the Turnbull article if there was no trolling.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Don’t force me to love you.

          • Kenshō

            You love products and tech. Especially bad ones in vogue.

          • Ren Stimpy

            That is true. Especially regarding range. I could never love an EV with a range less than 200 miles.

          • Kenshō

            My concern is the range in years till Tesla get them here if they get them here. It’s just one company in a big market with many market forces. Why place all our hopes in one basket?

          • Ren Stimpy

            Why are you concerned? Let Tesla be concerned. They are the ones who have to deliver, not you.

          • Kenshō

            Do you see my posts a few years ago in the One Step Off the Grid forum? The one titled “Jailbreaking the Powerwall? I’ve never really liked the cells arranged in 400V nominal.

          • Ren Stimpy

            No you’ll have to post a link to it. Mate, this has been a fun exchange I hope you will post here again and in the future I’m sure you’ll get the better of me if you study hard.

          • Kenshō
          • Ren Stimpy

            WTF – there is no content on that link and just 5 spasmodic comments. Are you for real?

          • Kenshō

            It’s a forum for raising topics. The topic I raised is the power wall is a significant departure from the previous industry standard voltages. They are doing their own thing and want everyone to change for them.

          • Ren Stimpy

            No worries. Obviously we have a system begging for change, so it’s good to see some thoughts on that.

          • Kenshō

            Who knows what’s going to happen. The Powerwall currently has one compatible single phase inverter and ditto three phase. Everyone else is using mainly a 48V battery bank or multiples of 12V. Then there’s car batteries and if we’re going to get standard chargers throughout the industry. Its like how many brands and different voltages do we have to cope with. Or how long will it take for it to settle down into some standard.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Won’t all those things just sort themselves out through regulation if they become pressing?

          • Kenshō

            Apple and PC never got reconciled. I’m somewhat more paranoid it’s just companies cornering a market.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Touche.

          • Kenshō

            The other issue is if a DC voltage was sorted out for appliances, allot of the stuff in a house could run off DC hence not need an inverter and the inverter/charger is costly. At present all the camping, RV, yacht stuff runs on 12V and 24V. In a house, most stuff runs on DC internally anyway, hence why it has a black transformer plug or internal transformer. If say we had a 48V or 96V DC standard, all we would need would be solar panels, regulator, battery and appliances run directly off that – just like in RV’s or developing countries. The more farmed off the inverter/charger, the less the output of the inverter/charger needs to be. It’s all setup to keep us sucking the juice off AC. It could be so much more simple.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Agree a dedicated DC network would save a shitload of power conversion loss from AC down to DC.

          • Kenshō

            PV is cheap. Batteries are costly. The inverter/charger is costly.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Yeah but is solar and batteries more costly than the ‘f**k you’ cost of grid power today?

          • Kenshō

            Sometimes I think manufacturers like complexity and are reluctant to design for less waste and standardise voltages. Makes it harder to get off the grid when we need to buy AC appliances. I think it will gradually get simpler over time as manufacturers keep competing with each other.

          • Kenshō

            Look at how many different grid voltages there are in the world, 120V, 220V, 240V…
            Batteries going the same way and the inverter has to be matched to the battery. It’s already a drama keeping up with battery inverter combos.

          • Ren Stimpy

            Really not interested how many different grid voltages there are in the world.

            Will renewables and batteries save me money?

          • Kenshō

            Presently to get fast payback, get plenty of PV for needs cause cheap. Skint out on batteries as they’re still coming down in price. It was easy for me cause the people here have a home/office and can consume during the solar day, hence only need a small battery. Those who only need a small battery should go first in my view. It’s more difficult for people who work away from home. No ten year payback for them.

          • Kenshō

            I’m a realist. What I think could really happen, if this website stops focusing upon collective woes, tells more community stories of installs, is a gradual wave could build. The wave would have to begin with people who can achieve a payback in 10 years or so or the first wave will be unlikely to get started. This first wave would have to be people who only need a small battery and hence would be:
            a) families who study/work at home,
            b) the retired,
            c) people who own their work premise – agricultural, commercial, industrial,
            d) community based organisations and govt like the military even.
            If we focus on those who can realistically move forward and they do, then prices come down for all of us. Then we all get a more resilient community and we begin to get the cheaply installed PV that has the potential to power EV’s cheaply. Then we’re truly in an era of relatively free energy.
            So I’ve said to this website it won’t be through analysing collective woes or getting all the good guys to get together with positive thinking. It can’t happen any other way than through careful strategy, timing and working out how to stage a property, roof by roof, building by building. That’s what I reckon and what I’m doing. I did my campervan first ($1.5k) while traveling for 18 months in it, then got back and did my smallest building ($7.6k). There’s been two seperate days of grid outages and the power, NBN and landline were unaffected. Really satisfying. When you do it, gear will be cheaper and better.

          • Ren Stimpy

            I edited the snark out my comments in the above banter.

          • Ren Stimpy

            There are plenty of stories of community installs on this website. Some focus on the collective woes, including the woeful politics, is necessary. someone has to or nothing will change, keep the mongrels honest and all that. To get to a clean cheap reliable grid the system will have to change, the market will have to change, the politics will have to change and so on. We have to see the bad with the good or nothing will change.

          • Kenshō

            I agree and sometimes people don’t want to listen and so have to learn their own way. When your driving your EV and others are lamenting the drop in value of their vehicles and the expense of running them, that’s just how it has to be.

          • Kenshō

            In a house only the stove and washing machine run on AC. It’s all DC. A few years back someone made a DC washing machine.

      • Kenshō

        With the micro level, if we look at the “Shares” on this website, what I reckon happens is the political ones don’t do so well cause its usually fairly negative or dominated by an old monopoly or paradigm. Articles featuring a Powerwall do better because the masses think they’re on the way to a new product. Because most people relate to concrete things and practical examples, this is why my theory is the larger community would get excited about a kind of “homes and gardens” of renewable energy, including our farms, businesses and factories. It’s getting the ball rolling in a dry political landscape where FIT’s have ended especially in 2017. It’s actually not hard to add a small amount of storage and self consume around a solar day with a bit in the evening. So many homes and businesses in that situation could. With ARENA I think they need more community based initiatives, no more large scale solar donating money to AGL and BHP etc. Good for the environment though bad for community development. It’s lack of dialectical logic to think environment and social justice. So next year is storage projects with a bang. Demand management. Load management. Hopefully ARENA will help out too.

      • Kenshō

        I’ve been confronting as I’ll be bored if we’re focused on what the coalition is doing with RE during the next few years.

  • Kenshō

    Many of these articles are written about individuals primarily concerned with manipulating capital. Where on a developmental continuum do we think psychologists would place them?

  • Kenshō

    It’s their own personal desires that get in the way of social justice and the environment. This is why I invest in Australian Ethical Investment, as I recognised their principle of the triple bottom line flags a developmental milestone, for lack of better words – empathy. Empathy determines how boat people and the environment are treated. In developmental psychology, empathy goes hand in hand with moving from “formal-operational logic” to “dialectical thinking” or also called “synergistic thinking”. People only move to the higher level of cognition, when they resolve their inner conflicts, personal attachments (to old paradigms) and their desires.

    • Cooma Doug

      Reading your points with interest. You talk about the broadly unknown things driving the moods, influencing politics and market behaviours.

      There are also many unknowns in the technology advances of recent years.

      I recently took some retired friends (baby boomers) through their own homes and was able to show them how to reduce energy consumption. There were 5 homes. The best result was 40% and the least 15%.

      There was one I didnt include in the numbers as it was so so bad. Two people with photos of Tony Abbot in the garage.
      They had electricity use of over 27 kwhs a day. I went to the house after talking to the home owner who was still blaming the carbon tax for his bill.
      I was able to show them how to get their use down to 13 kwh a day.

      • Kenshō

        That’s my exp too. Attachment to lifestyle can stop people looking at energy efficient appliances and benefits of insulation. Some would rather pay the bill. Some don’t know what to do. Some don’t care. Once I began caring for the environment it changed how I felt I wanted to consume electricity. The three of us really wanted to get our usage down and got excited whenever an old appliance died. Then we began to feel awkward telling others our bill because we genuinely didn’t want them to feel resentful or disappointed. This is probably how most people on this website feel and so why everyone here is exploring PV/storage. Many others don’t feel it. Sadly, nature is irrelevant to many people.

        • Alastair Leith

          relevant when 10m of SL rise are locked in and the world tears itself apart in a fight over resources. at least the pentagon recognise the relevance of this fact.

          • Kenshō

            I wonder what % of the population are interested in objectively looking at the data. If we say many, there’s fertile grounds to lobby governments and other citizens. If there’s less, then it’s over to the minority that is us. People either have the feeling nature is important or not or something vaguely awakening in them someday.

      • Alastair Leith

        that was compassionate and brave

  • Geoff

    seeing that the resources sector is suffering, how about reducing their subsidies to the carbon industry instead? seeing that they’re cost cutting and everything…

    • Jimbo

      A cut to the carbon industry. THAT is one cut I will support.

  • Chris Fraser

    All their promises are temporary. Do they think we always forget ? They have a rap sheet from hell !

  • Alastair Leith

    In a rare public showing, Hunt takes of the mask and reveals literally that he’s another liberal MP of the climate action blockers borg. No surprises Mathius Cormann has failed his maths once again.

  • Geoff

    My god turnbull is just digging himself deeper and deeper into the right wing cesspit. hunt for innovation, gas loving josh for environment and energy, the Belgium waffle for finance. All strategic moves for watering down any progress in clean tech. And don’t tell me that finance will go else where or get reinvested into new clean tech bodies. This is procrastinating and BS at its finest.