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Why is Labor so hopeless at defending renewables policy?

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Federal Labor has effectively abandoned its 50 per cent renewable energy target after its leaders failed hopelessly to identify the obvious arguments to defend the policy.

Instead – less than a week after the Coalition made idiots of themselves by bringing a lump of coal into Question Time, Labor appears to have thrown its lot in to a new scheme that could mean little new wind and solar over the coming decade.

The feeble backsliding was revealed by climate and clean energy spokesman Mark Butler on Thursday, trying to cover the tracks of a pathetic performance from his leader, Bill Shorten, on the ABC Radio “AM” program a day earlier.

And by defending him, Labor appears to have thrown the renewables industry under a bus. Butler effectively admitted there would be no stand-alone renewable energy target, instead of relying on an emissions trading scheme to bring on wind and solar.

And what do the architects of that EIS expect will happen under such a scheme? As we pointed out in detail late last year, no growth at all in large-scale wind and solar between 2020 and 2030. The EIS has been designed to support gas, not wind and solar.

According to the modelling commissioned by the Australian Energy Market Commission, under an EIS fossil fuels will thrive and still make up 80 per cent of the country’s electricity mix by 2030. By adopting that policy, Labor could be killing wind and solar in its tracks, or at least after the end of the current target in 2020.

aemc mix

Let’s go back one step: The only thing more frustrating about the Coalition government’s attack on renewable energy in Australia has been the hopeless effort put up by Labor in defending its 50 per cent renewable energy target for 2030.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his ministers, despite operating in a debate almost devoid of facts, is running rings around Labor by accusing it of risking both surging electricity prices and regular blackouts. Labor’s response has been ordinary at best.

Leader Bill Shorten gave the impression of being a rabbit in the headlights when interviewed on ABC Radio’s AM program on Wednesday, when asked four times about the potential cost of the target.

Asked once, this is what Shorten said:

BILL SHORTEN: Well, let’s go to this issue of renewable energy and there’s a range of points. What I’m going to do is explain to people why we think increasing, having a goal of increasing renewable energy as part of our energy mix, is important.

Our weather is getting more extreme and unpredictable. We are seeing more weather records being broken almost on a weekly basis in Australia. We can’t go business as usual.

Our view about energy in the future is that we need a mix of fossil fuels and renewables …

Not exactly a cut-through response. And neither was this, on the fourth time of asking:

BILL SHORTEN: Well, our answer is very, very straightforward. We think the cost of not acting is far greater. We don’t think we could sustain the cost as the Liberals are saying, of building new coal-fired power generation on the scale which Mr Turnbull is saying and we don’t think that from insurance to drought to extreme weather events, that we can simply go business as usual.

Why focus on the cost of not acting when the basic economics tells us the cost of acting is much less. There are numerous reports from credible agencies that Shorten could cite. Here’s an example of what he could say:

Australia needs to replace coal-fired power stations in coming years, and building new coal generators is ridiculously expensive.

The CSIRO and the owners of the energy networks have told us that building a decarbonised grid is not only critically important, it is eminently doable, and will be $100 billion cheaper than having more coal and gas. And that decarbonisation can be done with wind and solar.

The same people say that nearly half of all our power will come from homes and businesses, using their own energy and storage. And you know what, the CSIRO and the network owners say this is going to save them money. It’s going to increase their energy security, and lower costs.

The chief scientist says the energy transition is happening and it’s inevitable, and the technology solutions to incorporating lots of wind and solar are at hand. But the only thing stopping them is bad policy, and the bad policy comes from lousy politics.

shorten royalla

Bill Shorten on solar … “yeah … nah”

And then, maybe, Shorten could underline the point that we have to act on climate change, and why fossil fuels get massive subsidies because they are not asked to pay for the damage to the environment and climate.

The tragedy is that Butler, when interviewed on Radio National on Thursday, actually prosecuted those broad arguments, and did so reasonably impressively.

But the damage had already been done and the die was cast. Shorten’s ineptitude became headlines all through the 24 hour cycle, and treasurer spokesman Chris Bowen was equally inept on Sky News, when Labor gave the first hint that 50 per cent renewables was no longer a target – just an aspiration.

Butler, having finally given a rousing defence of the policy, was forced to admit it no longer existed when pressed on the issue by Fran Kelly on Radio National Breakfast.

Labor had been expected to adopt the sort of reverse auctions used so successfully by the ACT and proposed by Victoria and Queensland. This would be in combination with an EIS. Now, he said, Labor was confident that renewables would make up a large part of the energy mix in an EIS with no specific target.

The EIS, Butler now said, would provide the long-term price investment signal “that’s aligned with our emission reduction targets, which will require, in my very clear view, about half of our electricity by 2030 will be zero emissions.”

KELLY: But the long-term price investment signal won’t be a 50 per cent renewable energy target it’ll be, if it is a Labor government, an emissions intensity scheme.

BUTLER: That’s right –

KELLY: So you’re not going to have a 50 per cent target?

BUTLER: It’ll be an emissions intensity scheme that is aligned with our emission reductions target which will require, in my very clear view, that about half of our electricity by 2030 will be zero emissions.

He quoted the AEMC estimate that an EIS the would be $15 billion cheaper than the current policy and cheaper than a renewed RET. But we pointed out how ridiculous those assumptions were, because they were based around cost estimates of wind and solar that bore no relation to reality.

But if gas receives the policy backing on EIS, making it once again competitive with renewables, there is little chance that wind and solar will get much of a look in.

Butler accused the Coalition of wanting to “effectively muddle on, cross our fingers  and hope that as these plants continue to shut down in a very disorderly fashion someone’s going to build a replacement plant. This is a very dangerous game the government is playing.”

And now, it seems, Labor wants to play the same game, and muddle on in its own disorderly fashion, albeit it to a different tune. But just as it sought to wedge Turnbull on carbon trading with the CPRS in 2009, it is trying to do the same with an EIS in 2017, and to hell with the consequences.

One thing that we’ve learned from the rise of Trump, Brexit and One Nation is that even without facts, clarity wins votes. Labor had the advantage of having facts on its side, but now it looks like they’ve gone and thrown it away.

As The Greens Adam Bandt noted, this is a capitulation, a betrayal and an act of cowardice. And everyone has a right to be angry.  

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  • George Darroch

    No target? Is this right?

  • David leitch

    They haven’t put the time in to build the foundations of the policy. I’ve been complaining about this for a year now. Its a great policy but it has to be backed up with a consultant’s report and a model and show how it will deliver security and fair price outcomes. At least in Qld they have the Mugglestone report and Jacobs modelling.

    • solarguy

      I’ve always said the same to my Labor mates David, however it needs to get to you know who and for them to take it seriously. Politics is a weird thing, the games they play shits me to be honest.

  • George Michaelson

    I think they’re scared of being painted the high-tax party. No matter that government intervention spending on infrastructure usually makes jobs, and helps re-inflate an economy, no matter that its net jobs positive: They’re scared.

    Its really sad. I think if they ran this on progressive economic grounds, without having to confront the AGW deniers, there is a strong economic upside to spending on Solar, Wind, PHS, Batteries, for the entire economy nationwide, and for state-level risks.

  • Nemo

    They seem to have also been completely incapable of arguing for storage as a necessary condition for having high renewables share probably because it would look like them “agreeing” with the Libs.

  • lin

    “why-is-labor-so-hopeless-at-defending-renewables-policy?”
    Perhaps they don’t want to fight the mining industry again. Or jeopardise donations from those in the business sector opposed to renewables. Or perhaps they are spineless cowards. Or perhaps they don’t really believe the scientific evidence, preferring faith and gut feel to reason and rationality as a basis for decision making.

  • lin

    “why-is-labor-so-hopeless-at-defending-renewables-policy?”
    Perhaps they don’t want to fight the mining industry again. Or jeopardise donations from those in the business sector opposed to renewables. Or perhaps they are spineless cowards. Or perhaps they don’t really believe the scientific evidence, preferring faith and gut feel to reason and rationality as a basis for decision making.

    • Tom

      “why-is-labor-so-hopeless-at-defending-renewable-policy?”

      Because they don’t give a stuff. All they want to do is gauge what’s popular and a potential vote-winner, and they’ll jump on it, or jump off it if they think it’s a vote-loser.

      Once again, they could have taken this debate by the scruff of the neck, but by the time the focus groups got back to them with public opinion advice the debate had moved past them.

    • Alastair Leith

      bought

  • Peter F

    On the other hand you could present a small target for a change.
    Let the libs carry on about coal and now nuclear, while more and more Sun Metals and even AGL, EA etc just go and build more wind and solar.
    On the NEM there is still 43GW of capacity even after Hazlewood closes. The maximum demand is around 33-35GW. with a 15% reserve margin we still have plenty of capacity
    I did see a forecast that 2.2GW of new large scale renewables will go online or start construction this year plus another 800MW or so of rooftop. That completely replaces Hazlewood.
    AEMO rules will be quietly reformed and gas generators strong-armed into being more responsive
    Moves can be made at state level to have 40-80,000 batteries and smart water heaters installed in the next 18 months. That can shave peak demand by 300-400MW.
    Another move state government can make is to direct the ESC’s to raise feed in tariffs to at least year ahead futures prices.
    That combined with the next round of electricity and gas price increases will push up solar and battery installations rapidly and further shave peak demand.
    If an election was six months away labor would be in trouble. However the way the Libs are going they will do nothing to improve power security before the next election and you can be sure the last thing the Libs want is an early election.

    So my advice to Labor would be to hammer on gas price gouging and AEMO rules, quietly encourage their state counterparts to move their local policies along. In the meantime keep your powder dry and get the policies sorted and on the one hand ride the cost of renewables down and make sure you are seen at the opening of every new solar, wind or storage installation.
    About six months out from the election, then hammer the fact that coal use is now falling around the world 13% since the peak in China 40% in the US and coal plants are being abandoned faster than they are being built. (The largest coal plant west of the Mississippi just announced it is closing).
    Never interrupt the enemy when they are making fools of themselves

    • George Darroch

      “my advice to Labor would be to hammer on gas price gouging and AEMO rules, quietly encourage their state counterparts to move their local policies along”

      Really good advice, unlikely to be taken.

      • stalga

        They could also point out to Turnbull that all the renewable energy in SA, bar one wind farm, is the direct result of his own policy when Environment Minister.

    • David leitch

      There is a lot to be said for that. The NEM may have enough power but its going to be short energy for the next couple of years.

    • solarguy

      I agree, but tell Bill and Mark too. I intend to as my local MP is Labor.

      • John Knox

        My local MP is Shorten…

        • solarguy

          Good, sic em Rex!

      • stalga

        Mine’s Warren Entsch (lib). He’s in Canberra of course, but his staffer in Cairns hates what’s going on.

    • Kevfromspace

      You mean AEMC rules?

      • Peter F

        Sorry, I stand corrected. The rules by which AEMO operates

  • Don McMillan

    In relation to Natural Gas [FF] it has been the Liberals that have done the damage,Labor generally [etc NT] has been the most supportive.
    This article demonstrates the reliance on politics for the growth of renewables.
    If renewables want a substantial percentage of the market they should consider changing their business plan to bringing a reliable [24hr /365day] product to the market. This would mean combining solar wind etc with gas & or battery etc.
    Then there is no need to rely on politicians.

    • NO, as Finkel pointed out, the dice are loaded in favour of the incumbents, from the 30-minute settlement rule through to non-payment for environmental impact. Every attempt to change the rules has been thwarted. it is not a level playing field.

      • Peter F

        Giles I suspect the 30 minute rule is the sleeper. a 5/5 or 10/10 rule will transform the peak end of the market and rapidly push batteries and other fast response load control into the market

        • Ian

          Large end users are pushing for the market to move to 5 mins too. They already know that prices will come down as a result. You are not a lone voice in this argument.

      • Don McMillan

        it can never be a level playing when politics dictate outcomes
        This website has continually boasted renewables are cheaper than ff so if true then the only issue is 24-7 reliability
        If addressed the winner is…..

        • Peter F

          We have hydro and if we want we have 3-4GW of controllable loads. We still need fast response thermal, (gas) which can eventually be partially or fully converted to biomass or power to gas technology or even DICE but there is no way anyone can make a case for new coal in the NEM. It is too expensive and too unresponsive

          • riley222

            Wanna Bet. Unless we have an election real soon thats the way it will go. Probably a sweetener in there for renewables on the never never, just to deflect a bit of heat.
            Watch em do it.

      • jeff nestor

        On level playing fields, rules, failure of the left, “markets”… and why climate policy and implementation of alternatives goes on and on ever so slowly.
        Life and debt. living through the financialisation of the biosphere.

        Mirowski sort of nails it at 39.00. (UTS 2013…60Min.)

    • Kevan Daly

      You’re absolutely right. For renewables to be successful they must win the economic arguments, not rely on fickle politicians.

      • Mark Roest

        And they shall, very soon. Once they do that, people need to be educated about how economic transformation can happen at the grass roots, and wherever people gather and collaborate in the name of Life, at any level of society where they exist. There are more than one morals to this story!

        • Peter F

          New for new in Australia it is game over. There has been a short term lift in demand over the last year but soon it will resume trending down so that is why the FF advocates are fighting so hard. Every new solar or wind installation is killing their existing business

      • neroden

        Renewables have already won the economic argument, and you are now dealing with Enron-style manipulation.

  • Brunel

    Because they are ignorant of UHVDC transmission lines that exist in China and India.

    China has a 3000 km long one and India has 2 that are at least 1700 km long each.

    The watchdog in Britain forced BAA to stop being a monopoly airport provider. Building a UHVDC line from PER to SYD would allow any power station in the 5 states to supply electrons into the market as long as an Aussie watchdog forces the power station owners to stop being a monopoly.

    Of course a lot of solar power stations could be dotted along the UHVDC line that can take on a coal power station – thus keeping prices under control.

    • Peter F

      UHVDC is an unnecessary technology in Australia. Unlike China, the US or even Germany, we can locate all the renewables we need within 300km of all the major load centres. It will mean more storage than with a DC grid but there will be storage required anyway and the extra storage will cost far less than the DC links

      • Brunel

        Transmission is much cheaper than storage.

        The cost of storage in very large batteries is at least 10c/kWh.

        You think the cost of transmission is that high?

        The sun sets in Perth probably 2 hours after Sydney – thus solar panels in WA can power NSW when Sydney has not had sunrise yet.

        And after Perth has sunset, solar power stations in NSW can power Perth.

        Just last week, Sydney was flooded while Adelaide was in a heatwave! So building UHVDC will result in a more robust grid.

        Of course storage at the point of use is a good idea, but UHVDC allows production to take place in the sunniest parts of AUS rather than at the point of use.

        • Ken Dyer

          The fact still remains that the Labor Party, is still the only party that when in Government, actually did something useful about solar/wind power, energy efficiency and the environment.

          According to this article UHVDC is an expensive option.
          https://www.uco.es/abovezeroenergy/2014/04/23/ac-vs-dc-power-new-battle-currents/

          This is not to say that it should replace regional/local battery banks, but unless there is a proven economic need to replace AC with DC as the main transmission medium, Australia should hasten slowly with UHVDC

          A better short term solution to establish power generation at local level would be for mandatory solar PV systems on all new homes.
          https://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/thousands-sign-petition-for-mandatory-rooftop-solar-on-new-build-australian-homes/

          One of the recent Labor Government’s solutions was the ill starred pink batts scheme. However, the deaths were as a result of poor implementation and human error rather than a good policy decision or concept.
          https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/we-really-must-talk-about-the-pink-batts,5622

          I think this could be a contributing reason why Shorten is politically gun shy when it comes to pushing for obvious solutions such as mandatory solar PV on new homes. Never mind the regulations and Australian standards that govern these installations, but it would probably be political death given the machinations of the gutter Murdoch press and wingnut commentators.

          Given that battery prices are expected to halve by 2018, makes the whole concept of self generated home power so easy to afford at a cost equivalent of a new TV or fridge, makes me wonder where the heads of people are really at.

          • Brunel

            Large solar power stations produce electrons more cheaply than rooftop solar panels.

            Some people may cut down trees to get rooftop solar panels.

            We need a good solution and get government to buy back the grid.

          • Peter F

            They do but the T&D costs wipe out almost all the advantages

          • Brunel

            You mean the profit margins of the retailers.

          • neroden

            Labor is the only party which has done something useful while in government?

            That’s just because the Greens haven’t been in government yet….

          • Ken Dyer

            Come the day…….yes please

        • Mark Roest

          Brunel, once upon a time, that may have been the best you could get, but new technology is coming, both lithium and non-lithium, and the best prices for large and small batteries are going to be stepping down toward 1 cent or less per kWh levelized (lifetime) cost by 2021.

          • Brunel

            Citation needed.

            The factories will not be ready by 2021.

            1c/kWh would be a dream.

          • Mark Roest

            The Tesla Gigafactory will double (or more) world production by 2020, and LG Chem will keep adding smaller multi-GWh/yr factories. 1 cent or less/kWh will be a dream for a few more months, then it will change to an imminent reality, a little farther up a learning curve. Not a dream; a declaration, based on knowledge which does not get shared for now.

  • George Darroch

    I asked my thoughtful and intelligent local member Tim Watts why his party supported dropping the RET, when the AEMC projected much higher fossil generation out to 2030 under an EIT. This was his response, and I think it demonstrates some of the assumptions behind the switch:

    (edited for clarity from Twitter)

    “I couldn’t disagree more. You’re confusing means with ends. The RET itself isn’t the objective. Renewable energy is.”

    “The AEMC still says EIT is the most cost effective and scalable emission reduction mechanism. This modelling is directed at a 2030 target – you could expect a post 2030 environment under EIT to favour renewables more as it leveraged a larger renewable capacity and lower renewable costs in that post 2030 world. Viewing commitment to a post 2030 RET (given other commitments) as some kind of moral litmus test isn’t helpful”

  • Ali Pockley

    The only answer is to do it yourself.

    Check out Totally Renewable Yackandandah and see what a community can do when it’s truly galvanised into action. Our political parties are utterly woeful. We desperately need a new political party – “The Browns”?

  • wmh

    Well I’ll just put in more solar, storage and PV powered domestic hot water and the politicians, power generators and poles ‘n wires can go hang.

    • solarguy

      Here, here.

  • Brian Tehan

    “Why are labor so hopeless at defending renewables”? Answer – Bill Shorten. Every time someone asks him a question on this subject, he cannot give a convincing answer. Mark Butler is enthusiastic and articulate but Shorten is hopeless. His heart isn’t in it. He should be using energy policy to flog the coalition, after all, He’s got the AEMO, the Chief Scientist and the AIG all, pretty much, on the same page. Turnbull’s team have made fools of themselves with false claims on renewables that were soon disproven and, finally, the lump of coal stunt that made them look like fools.
    Instead of capitalising, they think they’ve been “wedged” by the government, so they’ve rolled over at a time when it’s pretty obvious that the answer to the energy issues and the climate emergency (which Shorten rarely mentions) is more renewables, including storage – pumped hydro, thermal and battery.

    • George Darroch

      Indeed. Hottest days on record!

      They should be roasting the coal-ition, and turning this into generational conflict, which they do so well. Just look at how vulnerable the government was on housing during the last election…

    • Rob G

      I despair – I have been a Shorten supporter, but Labor need someone who can really connect with the public, speak decisively and straight. Tony Burke? Penny Wong? Even Rudd and Gillard would do a better job… I worry that Labor not have their house in order by the time the next election rolls in. Bowen too was disappointing (normally he’s good).

      • RobSa

        Why would the leader of the opposition choose to not attack the pm from his most vulnerable position? Shorten is a big mistake. He is a dud root, limp, tiny and impotent.

    • Brad

      I agree he has a bit of Tony in him where its more relying on the other party failing then getting out and being elected for having strong policys its just attached the other. But then again look at the debate here and in america on both sides….

  • Zvyozdochka

    The political process has completely failed on energy transformation.

    We’ve been left to hope that markets will gradually price-in alternatives to fossil fuel use, but now that this is happening (albeit too slowly), those incumbents are USING the very same political process to stall the change.

    We have to find a way to fight this in the courts around the world. I don’t see an alternative anymore and I’ve no idea how to get started.

    • Rikaishi Rikashi

      One alternative is to solve the problem crippling our politics. Political donations.

      We don’t have a functioning democracy while our parties have to beg for donations to get re-elected in an era where wealth inequality is higher then it has ever been so only the wealthy can afford to donate notable sums and those who feel the impact of energy policy can not.

    • RobSa

      We will criminalise inaction on climate change. We will pursue retroactive legislation which places criminal negligence on those responsible who failed to protect the environment. I can’t really be any other way, can it?

  • Steve Fuller

    Couldn’t they have just said that we are developing a comprehensive plan which will be fully costed and released at a time of our choosing closer to the next election. Next question.

  • Robin_Harrison

    It’s the act of lefty politicians no less owned by the fossil fuel industry than their righty mates. And all these mongrels, on record as liars, have the audacity to put ‘the honourable’ in front of their names. Still, in pollispeak with different meanings to real speak, honourable probably means unprincipled lying thief.

  • Rob G

    The ALPs inability to explain its policies really, really hurt it. In the meantime, Frydenberg lies with confidence and many will believe him. So many good arguments – Keating would have nailed this situation. Frustrating.

    • Miles Harding

      The remaining credibility of Fraudenberg seems to be slipping away with each new demand from combined business and social support groups that the government do what it was elected to do and act in the national interest.

      It’s unusual to see a govenment that is failing every visible stakeholder group at the same time.
      It’s a testament to how cheaply the LNP has sold it’s collective soul to a few covert vested interests and just how much national damage can be inflicted for a couple of million dollars ‘invested’ in the libs.

    • Alastair Leith

      yes and no/ Keating used to cut and run on environmental issues to actually (Forestry Agreement he struck with Bob Brown bc a few truckies drove to Canberra). But the economics of this are so clear even a mid-weight-neo-liberal like Keating could have seen it and explained it

  • Chris Sanderson

    Perhaps the answer applies to both parties – either they are being blackmailed or they’ve made some Faustian bargain with today’s devils and their funders?
    Whichever, IMHO they have both lost their legitimacy to govern, but how long will it take for the majority of Australians to reach the same conclusion, choose an Independent MP to represent their electorate and vote accordingly……../Chris

  • Nick Thiwerspoon

    Labor are utterly pathetic. Bill Shortchange was completely incapable of making the case for renewables. Give me strength.

  • Nick Thiwerspoon

    Labor are utterly pathetic. Bill Shortchange was completely incapable of making the case for renewables. Give me strength.

    • RobSa

      He chooses not to. Why?

  • Radbug

    “Coal-fired plants are being built all over Asia.” One is being built in Bangladesh, yes, but India, China? Air pollution in India and China is off the charts. This level of air pollution will have political consequences.

    • Askgerbil Now

      Though the LNP has no money for NDIS, is has put $5 billion into building coal-fired plants across Asia. It put this taxpayer money into the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and is now lobbying it to lend for coal projects.

      Ignoring the stupidity of this activity, the countries that own coal mines in Australia – China, Japan and India – all have domestic industries that chase contracts to build coal-fired power stations in other countries. It is good for their profits to win contracts to build coal-fired plants. They then profit from selling coal from their Australian coal mines to their customers for the next 40 years.

      • stalga

        There’s one mine that is not going to happen without a huge fight, if the courts don’t kill it.

      • Radbug

        As I have alluded to, the problem is in the big upfront bet (eg., pro rata re Hazelwood & Turk USC, $AU6.23 billion). Just because the bet has been made in Asia doesn’t mean that it has gone away, and because the Australian taxpayer has assumed the bet, the bet is largely risk-free for Asian governments. Also, because they have so little skin in this game, Asian governments could choose renewable power (and who knows what form that will take going forward) and close down their Australian paid-for coal-fired power plants overnight thereby leaving Canberra to nurse its losses. It’s a mug’s game and Canberra is playing it, with our money.

      • Chris Fraser

        Tch. I didn’t know that ! Indeed the tentacles of this underground coal protection system must go very deep …

  • Ross Flint

    When people are increasingly disillusioned with the major political parties, guess what Labor does – gives its supporters a good reason to jump ship. What a pathetic, heartbreaking performance! Where is there a visionary, courageous leader in Australia today, one who commands respect, one who understands the times in which we live and what is needed to be done?

  • Alen T

    Going forward with an EIS seems like a wise choice to me. Let’s remember a key driver for RE is CC. An EIS addresses this more so than an RE target, including its capability to ramp up when required. Internalising the externality (real cost of carbon) is the first step to transitioning to a sustainable economy, and again, this is much better achieved by an EIS than by a RE target. Think of the big picture here.

    • George Darroch

      It doesn’t work like that.

      A high price on carbon means a large hit on commercial and household bills – which consultants can turn into a large negative for any government. $100 roasts, anyone?

      A low price on carbon means absolutely nothing. We only need to look at New Zealand, where fossil generation *increased*.

      A 50% RET doesn’t have that disadvantage.

    • solarguy

      The carrot and stick approach can work as it gives the right price signal for investing in RE and yes I agree it can be ramped up and it will need to be after a while. However a target is needed like a destination on a journey, unengaged voters won’t see the big picture otherwise.

      This is how I see how the big picture should be painted.
      1. An aspirational goal and the benefit of achieving it, including the time frame. Plus feed back on progress.
      2. The mechanism of how that goal (target) will be reached, in detail (the road map) showing the policies after consultation with relevant interests, of the best way to get there.

      Further elaboration; An EIS is the stick, funds raised must go into (as has been the case currently) a pool, lets call it the Clean Energy Finance Fund, that will have it’s revenue increased by ramping up % of penalty every year.

      The Carrot; Power generator businesses will pay less of a penalty for the carbon they produce if they, invest in RE generation and storage. Once all their FF generation has been displaced by RE, their liability will be zero. So the quicker they get there the less penalty they pay.

  • John Goss

    I’m confused Giles. I thought the CCA said that a market based mechanism such as Labor is proposing was a cheaper way of achieving our greenhouse gas reduction goals in the power industry than a RET. But you seem to be arguing the opposite.

    • Not sure about CCA, but that what AEMC arguing, But their numbers don’t stack up, as i explained in last year’s article. But an EIS as they propose will do nothing for renewables, so it won’t get to 50% as butler hopes.

  • Nick

    Just another example of a government devoid of a policy, you couldn’t make this up, we have a situation where all the attention is on the oppositions energy policies because we have a Prime minister incapable of showing any leadership, and no one in the media seems to be asking the obvious question, that is… umm what is the governments energy policy… how are you going to provide cheap, reliable and clean energy that they speak of ?

  • Chris Marshalk

    Shorten lacks enthusiasm & has no burning fire in him or anger. Is this the best Labor leader?? ? This is why I voted Greens.

  • Tom R

    Perhaps the question should be, why are some in the renewables industry so intent on burning down every progress Labor makes.

    For years, Labor fought tooth and nail to protect the RET, while the renewable industry and the Greens cowered under the libs threats, until the RET has become a toothless mule.

    So Labor, after having been abandoned, moves forward with the scheme supported by both the AEMC and CCA and now those who have allowed the libs to get away with dismembering the RET complain about Labor’s commitment.

    Recall, this is the only party who has delivered on emissions control, at huge personal expense, losing Government to an unhinged campaign by a brutal media who are just itching to do it all over again. And then they cop flack from the people who are supposedly invested in renewables. And yet they retain the only policy supported by professionals in the field to tackle this issue.

    Perhaps you should take advice from the CCA for once, instead of relying on reports even you claim are “based on some extraordinary assumptions about solar and gas prices” to support your attack.

    With friends like you, No wonder harbourside looks like a walk in the park.

    • Please tell us how this amounts to progress – shifting from a policy modelled on 50% renewables to one modelled on 20% renewables?

      • Tom R

        Is it better than what we have now?

        Is it achievable within this political climate?

        Is 50% achievable with this?

      • Tom R

        Also, do you have a link for the 20% figure?

        • It figure 3 in story above. the link to the AEMC report is provided in story

          • Tom R

            So, again, you are using figures form the report even you discredit, not Labors figures.

          • What are Labor’s figures? What modelling have they done? They have never criticised the Frontier modelling, in fact they have praised it, saying an EIS would save $15 billion from business as usual. When in the very same document Frontier says that if you use a more realistic solar price, a 50% RET would deliver similar savings. Why didn’t they promote that? The modelling is based around supposed costs, not generation mix. You can’t shovel more renewables into the system without a specific RE target, be it a RET or an ACT style policy based on auctions. All modelling shows that.

          • Tom R

            So, as I assumed, an attack based on assumptions. Well done

  • Kevin Cobley

    Shorten needs to be moved on, he couldn’t sell a peanut butter sandwich to a box of cockroaches.

  • fred bloggs

    Why is it that people think politicians are going to be able to move us towards a low carbon future? There is an old saying when something is not right – “follow the money”. Our politicians of all persuasions are so at the beck and call of the resources sector industries that they will always resist the status quo (even when some of the resources people are breaking ranks). This will go nowhere until people power makes it move (as it did with solar panels and I suspect will do with battery storage). Let’s stop voting for mainstream political parties until they actually start listening to those who vote them in rather than those who pay their political donations.

  • Kevin Cobley

    Shorten couldn’t sell a peanut butter sandwich to a box of cockroaches. Time the ALP moved him on, he’s Labor’s Hillary unelectable.

  • Speaking of policy, more important than a renewable energy target (which is important) is to enable local electricity trading with blockchain microgrids. https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_AEMC_Reconsider_the_change_request_for_local_electricity_trading/?cKTpNib

  • Robert Comerford

    I have nothing again Bill Shorten, but if Labor is to do some good it needs a more effective leader. I fear if they go to the polls with Shorten next time the same thing that happened to the Democrats having Hillary will happen here. Shorten seems to be someone even people I would consider Labor voters don’t like. I think the polls as to who is preferred prime minister speak more accurately about the final result. Time to promote someone like Albo.