Mixed Greens: Garrett back in the environment game | RenewEconomy

Mixed Greens: Garrett back in the environment game

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Former ALP minister back on environment circuit; Boswell’s RET swipe; Google, KKR to buy 106MW of US solar; Ikea to buy 46MW Canada wind farm.

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Peter Garrett’s torrid, six-year political career might have ended at the last election, but his role as spokesperson for the environment looks like it’s being reprised. The former Labor minister and Midnight Oil frontman has been billed as a speaker at South Australia’s WOMADelaide festival next year, as part of The Planet Talks program, along with the likes of British barrister, author and activist Polly Higgins, and our very own Paul Gilding.

Of course, Garrett has a long history of dedicated environmental activism. He was President of the Australian Conservation Foundation for 10 years, and in 2003 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the environment and music industry. But his passion for the planet couldn’t save him from the pitfalls of politics. After being appointed as Environment Minister under Kevin Rudd (on his first time around), Garrett was very publicly demoted in mid-2010 over the insulation scheme debacle. And when Julia Gillard took over as PM, he was shifted out of environment altogether, and into education.

But in his valedictory speech to the House of Representatives in June this year, he made it clear that he would be going back to his roots – and armed with a good source of motivation: “There is a taint of recklessness and disregard for our environment that washes through that Queensland government administration,” Garrett said, in Canberra. “Once I leave this place, I’ll be doing my utmost to make sure that those natural heritage and environment gains, which have been hard won, are kept in place.” Campbell Newman, be warned.

In other news…

Things are looking more and more grim for the future of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, with Nationals Senator Ron Boswell the latest to speak out against it. The Australian reports that the Coalition MP said the $5 billion-a-year by 2020 cost of the RET was helping to tip business “over the edge,” and to turn the manufacturing sector into a “killing field”. “It is a killing field out there for manufacturers,” the senator reportedly said. “I’m not placing the blame for Australian manufacturers’ woes on the carbon tax and renewables but they have certainly played their part in tipping business over the edge.” Boswell’s comments will no doubt bolster the case for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to weaken the scheme.

Google and KKR & Co have agreed to acquire six solar farms that Sharp’s Recurrent Energy unit is developing in California and Arizona in a deal worth $US400 million. Bloomberg reports that Google and KKR are providing both equity and debt financing for five projects in Southern California and one in Arizona that will produce enough power for more than 17,000 homes. The six projects will have a combined capacity of 106MW and are expected to be operational by January.  Google blogged on Thursday that it would provide about $80 million to the joint venture.

Home furnishing giant Ikea, meanwhile, has revealed plans to buy a 46MW wind farm in Alberta, Canada, from Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd. Bloomberg reports that the Dublin-based Mainstream, which is currently building the $US86 million project, will operate and maintain the wind farm after it’s completed in the second half of next year.

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