Frydenberg continues attack on state-based renewable targets

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Frydenberg continues attack on state-based renewable energy targets, citing Grattan report that claims they are inefficient and too costly. But in the absence of any federal initiative, what choice do the states have?

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(Update: Frydenberg on Thursday morning said the events of the South Australia blackout showed that the state-based renewable energy targets of South Australia, Victoria and Queensland are “unrealistic.” This is despite admitting that renewable energy had nothing to do with the blackout. We will have more of that in a new story today).

Federal environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg has continued his attack on state-based renewable energy targets, despite offering no new measures at the federal level.

Josh Frydenberg wants to grasp the commercial potential of new energy technologies.
Josh Frydenberg wants to grasp the commercial potential of new energy technologies.

Most Labor states and territories have announced, or already implemented, much longer dated and more ambitious renewable energy policies than the federal government, but are coming under attack from the Coalition, fossil fuel lobby groups and some think tanks for “going it alone”.

Frydenberg on Wednesday used a new report from the Grattan Institute, a leading critic of state-based targets, to renew its attack on the schemes, which it says will add costs and stop investment.

“Federal and state renewable energy targets being different does create a problem,” Frydenberg said on ABC Radio National. “It skews investment in an inefficient way. So, for example, Victoria has 40 per cent target by 2025, but it currently only has 12% of their electricity generation coming from renewables.”

He then used an example from the Grattan Institute report. “If they offer incentives to set up renewable projects in Victoria, that may attract investment here when the most efficient place may be a solar plant in Queensland. So in that case Grattan report is right because it may skew outcomes.”

Much of the mainstream media, including the ABC and Fairfax, as well as the Murdoch media, has seized upon the Grattan report as “evidence” that state-based targets will cause prices to rise and create chaos and inefficiencies in the energy market.

The renewable energy industry argues that without the state-based targets, there would be no investment at all. In recent years, the ACT’s 100 per cent renewable energy target, and its effective reverse auction programs, have caused more than 460MW of capacity to be built or start construction.

That represents nearly the totality of new build renewable energy projects in Australia in recent years, thanks to the policy uncertainty surrounding the federal target, which the Coalition first tried to scupper completely, and then cut by more than one third to just 33,000GWh by 2020.

The ACT target was critical in retaining interest in the Australian market from large international investors, which in turn has led to increased competition and lower costs.

The Victoria and Queensland are now following a similar path, aiming for the 40 per cent by 2025 target and 50 per cent by 2030 respectively. The new Northern Territory Labor government is also proposing a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.

Those state governments argue that such targets are critical to ensure that the states attract sufficient investment in renewable energy projects in their state. This is particularly crucial for Victoria, which risks seeing much of its coal fired capacity closing over the coming decade.

In recent years, presumably because it retained a Labor government rather than a Colaition government, South Australia has managed to capture nearly half the investment in large scale renewables in Australia, helping it to lower its overall emissions and electricity costs.

Frydenberg says he wants to raise the issue again at the next COAG energy ministers meeting, but unless the federal government either raises or extends its own renewable energy target, there is little likelihood that any of the states will abandon their own state based initiatives.

Right now, those targets are the only post 2020 policies that are in place. Australia has no plans for any sort of carbon pricing, its renewable energy target effectively ends in 2020, it has no emissions standards for large coal generators and  its energy white paper completely ignores climate change.

As, it so happens, do the rules governing the running of the National Electricity Market.

Meanwhile, AGL Energy is reaping the rewards of its investment in recent years in large coal fired power stations and the rise in wholesale electricity prices, which are nearly eclipsing the impact of the carbon price scrapped by the Abbott government.

AGL, which has bought the large Loy Yang A brown coal generator in Victoria and the biggest coal fired generation fleet in NSW, rewarded its shareholders with an increased dividend on Wednesday, and said that despite the “unseasonal” warm weather in July and August, which reduced demand for heating, it expected to increase profits from the electricity market this year.

It also called for a uniform approach to climate and energy policies, repeated its call for new “capacity” payments to be made available for fossil fuel plants – decried by many as a new form of subsidy – and for “age-base’ limitations to be put on coal generators.

AGL also added an oil and gas executive, Peter Botten of Oil Search, to its board of directors.

 

 

 

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38 Comments
  1. john 2 years ago

    “Capacity” charges are being used in some parts of the USA to pay Coal Generation Plants to stay open.
    Now there is a duck curve of energy demand and the previous bell curve has been removed thanks mainly to the millions of Australian householders who put PV on their roofs the 4 day high profitability per year of Coal Generation units has disappeared.
    To replace those gains the idea is to pay for the existence of these plants rather akin to a hold to ransom demand on the consumer frankly.
    Granted they may need some payment under the present energy mix, however once more CSP and storage is put in place that plea will disappear.
    The state governments have filled the vacuum of policy in the Federal area especially during the “Global Warming is Crap” policy outline in vogue not that long ago and in fact very much still in evidence from the said energy minister.
    The more Genex type developments put in place the better will be the outcomes for all.
    https://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/a-new-energy-gold-mine-storage-from-solar-and-pumped-hydro-75572

  2. A1 2 years ago

    how are the state policies being received by their electorates?

  3. Chris Fraser 2 years ago

    Erm, Minister …. please remove yourself from the RET stage and be silent. Everyone agrees your government spent its chance to be leader.

  4. Mark Roest 2 years ago

    Thank you for this article!
    The right rebuttal to the attacks in “Most Labor states and territories have announced, or already implemented, much longer dated and more ambitious renewable energy policies than the federal government, but are coming under attack from the Coalition, fossil fuel lobby groups and some think tanks for “going
    it alone” is:

    “No, we’re not going it alone — we’re all together, and leaving you behind! We’re going to completely replace the fossil fuel industry at the state and local level by 2030, and in the next election or the one after it, we’ll replace you, too!”

    You put the state and local programs together, including your own funding for the most promising and scalable technologies, and those technologies will appear seemingly from nowhere to answer your prayers.

    Regarding “If they offer incentives to set up renewable projects in Victoria, that
    may attract investment here when the most efficient place may be a
    solar plant in Queensland. So in that case Grattan report is right
    because it may skew outcomes,” the rebuttal is:

    “That’s only because you and Grattan are blind to anything beyond this quarter’s dollars. An efficient place is part of the answer, but an even bigger part is that we break the back of the monopoly system’s rent-seeking power, and distribute the ownership power and wealth-creating power to all the people who are willing to participate. That is the optimal outcome. We know you disagree; we just don’t care anymore.”

    • Clean livin 2 years ago

      Hey Josh, I’ve got bad news for you. Very bad in fact!

      It’s not only the States that are undermining your sponsors dominant business. It’s the households and business as well that view your puny efforts as ideology driven.

      We know only too well what you are up to, and have taken, and will continue to take matters into our own hands, where incidentally, smart decisions are made!

      But that message only relates to electricity generation. Climate Change being a seperate issue will be dealt with by the masses at the next federal election!

      • Brian Tehan 2 years ago

        Exactly, Frydenberg has thrown off his mask as a supporter of renewables and is bad Josh again. He’s upset about the states promoting renewables. The only possible explanation for this is that he’s never “believed” in climate change and he’s back to his old fulsome backing of coal. He’s not even pretending to do what Turnbull has asked him to, now (I presume).
        Seriously, Josh, the transformation has to happen and will happen. It will be a generator of jobs and economic activity and, you know, innovation!

      • disqus_3PLIicDhUu 2 years ago

        Yeh this Josh stooge is so owned, his owners have got their arms so up his backside hard to tell where he starts and COAG ends, the sad soul sold sock puppet.

  5. Barri Mundee 2 years ago

    The States are simply filling a policy vacuum left by the Federal government.

  6. howardpatr 2 years ago

    Frydenberg also enlisted the ABC’s Chris Uhlmann to peddle his story. In between writing books I thought Uhlmann would have done more research before rehashing the South Australian story where renewable were blamed for the owners of the gas generators making some smart profits.

    Uhlmann seems to have fallen for Frydenberg’s charm.

    Day by day Turnbull is being exposed as weak and indecisive in the face of the Abbottites – also known as god worshiping Luddites.

    • Brian Tehan 2 years ago

      The charms of Josh Frydenberg. LOL. Uhlmann is a well known conservative. He believes what the Murdoch press publishes and what the Liberal Party tells him.

      • Calamity_Jean 2 years ago

        “…what the Murdoch press publishes ….”

        Yuck. Murdoch is a malign influence in every nation where it publishes.

    • john 2 years ago

      Uhlmann is a total light weight with shall we say not exactly extensive intellectual ability.

  7. Rob G 2 years ago

    Josh continues to disappoint. I hope Bob Carr is correct when he said recently that he believed this government would last between 12-18months. Maybe 2nd time around voters will get it correct.

    • solarguy 2 years ago

      Let’s hope Bob is right. We need to get this country sorted quickly.

  8. Brian Tehan 2 years ago

    So far, Victoria, which has excellent wind resources, has mostly wind, on the large scale. There’s also a high uptake of rooftop solar PV. It’s bizarre logic to think that Victoria would be diverting solar investment in Queensland. Sure, there’s some good solar resources up in north west Victoria and, hopefully, one day soon, a solar thermal plant will be built up near Mildura, but Queensland has massive untapped solar potential and higher availability of solar, therefore better investment returns. I just don’t understand how renewable investment in Victoria will stall it in Queensland. Please explain, Josh?
    Personally, I think he’s just grasping at straws to try to slow the uptake of renewables.

    • john 2 years ago

      In fact perhaps western NSW would be the best place to utilize solar resources with PV because the ambient temperature is better during the day however with CSP perhaps QLD could be looked at.
      Actually the whole country lens itself to using free energy the only impediment is lack of fortitude from the so called leaders of our country a pathetic outcome frankly.
      This country has the best solar resources of any in the world bar South Africa and we are doing sweet fanny Adams with it.

  9. Kenshō 2 years ago

    With SA in crisis, it’s an opportunity for us to pause and consider the safety of our own families. How would our property fare in an emergency? I’ve written 12 posts on the “One Step Off The Grid” forums which cover disaster proofing our properties and making our communities more resilient in crisis – with the technologies available to us with renewable energy. They are written under the username “Anonymous”.
    https://onestepoffthegrid.com.au/forums/

  10. Kenshō 2 years ago

    A photo of two high voltage transmission towers down in the SA power outage. If the electricity network loses power, the NBN router and landline also lose power. Additionally, water pumps for town reservoirs lose power, so those local reservoirs on hills gradually get emptied out while citizens use water during the power outage. No running taps also means no flushing toilet. People are expressing shock at how dependent they are on town facilities.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b743cd893e5e61042c679dca588fade0b9f6e851c9b5e5a601e5bf3e8b864ad2.jpg

  11. Kenshō 2 years ago

    After the SA crisis, I’d like to summarise the main points for disaster proofing our country and our properties:
    a) If not already, ARENA need now turn their focus towards truly launching the new distributed paradigm of RE/storage. Storage provides frequency stability and individual locations soldiering on – when other parts of the grid are down and out. This strategy will also alleviate fears and insecurities of the mainstream media around RE and facilitate a faster rollout, as we do need mainstream voter support,
    b) We need now transition away from grid-connect PV systems which fall over when the grid falls over. Regarding the addition of storage, lets not be primarily concerned for financial tipping points. Lets place the safety and wellbeing of our children, partners, property and livestock first,
    c) Skilful design of a PV system can provide multiple redundancy of power sources such as:
    i) Grid,
    ii) PV can supply the inverter/charger with power directly from power posts or a DC bus, hence supplying the AC loads directly from PV,
    iii) In the event of a PV failure, the inverter/charger can supply the AC loads from the battery,
    iv) In the event of a grid and PV and inverter/charger failure, DC loads can be supplied directly from a battery. Like the cranking battery in a car, small solar systems of 12V or 24V can have cigarette sockets, merit plus and USB chargers wired directly to a DC switchboard and batteries,
    v) larger properties, commercial and industrial premises, city councils and emergency services can purchase an inverter/charger capable of managing 2x AC power sources, such as grid/diesel generator, grid/wind turbine or diesel generator/wind turbine.

    By definition, a distributed grid means anyone anywhere who is responsible for our important community infrastructure and our emergency services – now has the technology to disaster proof these essential services. Individual citizens also have the technology to add storage and disaster proof their properties, by providing critical system backup in the event of flood, fire and wind damage. Most critical systems on a property are only low power or intermittent loads such as: water pumps, a hotplate for cooking, fridge, mobile phone, computer and NBN router for emergency updates and a kettle for a hot water bottle if its cold. The basics only require the addition of a small amount of PV/storage. Each of our households will be more responsive in emergencies and add to the resiliency of our communities, able to lend a hand when others are in crisis.

  12. JustThink4Once 2 years ago

    It’s noteworthy that every time there’s an extreme weather event in Australia, the right wing line is “Now’s not the time to be talking about climate change”. Then along comes an extreme weather scenario that takes out the whole electricity grid. The blame is immediately placed squarely on renewable energy. No facts or details required. Certainly no reference to the vulnerability of a grid supplied power system during such violent weather events.

    • Analitik 2 years ago

      The SA grid was not vulnerable 5 years ago when the Playford and Northern stations were still running. With those gone, the SA government need to introduce capacity payments for Torrens A, Torrens B and Pelican Point to be online at all times. Otherwise, there is not enough synchronous inertia in the SA grid to survive islanding.

      If the wind turbines installed in SA had systems to simulate synchronous inertia (like Enercon’s Inertia Emulation) then the system MAY have survived last night’s storm but they don’t. The AEMO specifically warned about this in their February update on the SA grid.

      Anyway, SA has had more than the 11 minutes of annual power interruption that Giles forecast from one the recent AEMO supply reports

        • Analitik 2 years ago

          Rubbish. You are saying every power line from generators go to a single point where it is then fed out to users. It’s a bit more complex than that – there are layers of redundancy (“Gold Plating!!!!”) which is why it is called a GRID.

          • Giles 2 years ago

            Yep, and every layer of redundancy failed, because the damage of the storm was so great – multiple failures of transmission. that caused the whole grid to trip and sever the link to eastern states, as it is designed to do.

      • Giles 2 years ago

        AEMO and ElectraNet have made it very clear that it wouldn’t have mattered how many coal fired power stations were operating in the state at the time, the blackout would still have occurred.

        • Analitik 2 years ago

          Giles, areas would have been blacked out – that is a certainty. What would not have happened is the statewide interruption. Renewables are directly (through lack of synchronous inertia) and indirectly (through displacing thermal generators via subsidies) responsible for this event.

          • Giles 2 years ago

            That is hogwash and you know it, and aemo, electranet and even frydenberg have made that very clear.

  13. Kenshō 2 years ago

    Renewable Energy: Anywhere Anytime!!! Mt Everest. On land RV’s. Yachts.
    https://youtu.be/yaKYSWnZMHA

  14. Kenshō 2 years ago

    A distributed RE grid with storage means islanding can be implemented at any level of scale, surpassing outages from network infrastructure. This is far better for both metropolitan and rural areas. The SA crisis has HV powerlines and 22 poles down. The storm is still happening.

  15. Rob G 2 years ago

    If this storm has taught us anything, it is that we need more renewables, smaller and smarter grids and plenty of batteries. Individual are already coming to this understanding, no matter the relentless drum-beating of the “yesterdays” – like Barnaby Joyce.

    • Chris Fraser 2 years ago

      Consumers in SA could even have benefitted from their renewable. Combined with a battery and inverter charger they could have had power at home while the network went down. I hope they are the envy of their street.

  16. Ian Cutten 2 years ago

    If a similar climatic event occurred in Victoria, NSW or Qld what area of automatic disconnection (black out) would likely happen? How extensive may the cascade be?

  17. Alan S 2 years ago

    Frydenberg pontificated ‘energy security is our number one priority’. So did you have your fingers crossed in Paris Josh?
    Also very disappointed with Nick X – lot of blame and bluster with no practical suggestions. At a pre-election forum I asked Rebekha Sharkie about Nick’s opposition to wind power and was told he was all for it. He didn’t sound very convincing today.

    • solarguy 2 years ago

      The strange thing about Nick X’s thinking’ is that he likes solar but not wind. Go figure.

      • Brian Tehan 2 years ago

        The generation per square metre is obviously much higher and wind is still cheaper, wholesale, AFAIK. they are complementary technologies but wind is probably better paired with hydro or pumped hydro for maximum utilisation – maybe thermal storage but i’m not sure of the round trip efficiency. Excess wind can also be used for hydrogen production for industrial processes and for some specialised transport requirements (not cars).

        • solarguy 2 years ago

          I agree, but what has that got to do about Nick’s dislike of wind power?

          • Brian Tehan 2 years ago

            Answer: his dislike of wind power cannot be explained rationally, nor can Abbott’s or lots of people in the Liberal Party. I’m not a psychologist, I’m technical – I can only point out the benefits of wind in relation to solar.

          • solarguy 2 years ago

            No Brian it can’t, unless his coal benefactors are asking for his support against wind as they see it as the main enemy?

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