Government focuses renewable attack on solar as RET cutback blocked

Intro

With its attempts to cut back the renewable energy target (RET) continually frustrated, the Abbott government has expanded its attack on the renewable industry to rooftop solar, with Environment Minister Greg Hunt publicly alleging that the percentage of substandard rooftop solar installations is high enough to warrant investigation on safety grounds. The allegation has been undermined by the Government’s own Clean Energy Regulator, which found a mere 3.9 per cent of 13,015 systems were actually unsafe. Given the Government’s attacks on renewables have already created enough uncertainty around the future of the RET to set the industry back 12 years, this latest attack on solar has been dubbed a political scare campaign, with Australian Solar Council head John Grimes calling for Minister Hunt’s resignation. While the attacks are taking a toll, renewable developments continue throughout Australia, and reports are increasingly finding that solar is not only already economic, but on the cusp of grid parity and being the cheapest form of energy in most parts of the world, giving the industry momentum that will not be permanently stalled by ideological battles.

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  • RT @AYCC: Rise and shine, Canberra. It’s time to protect our clean energy industry! #ProtectTheRET http://t.co/UdYKTbnSMD

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Key Points

  • The Abbott government’s attacks on renewable energy is a dishonest attempt to protect the fossil fuel energy status quo. It is fond of using “intergenerational theft” to justify budget cuts it wants to make, but ignores the concept entirely when it comes to the transition to clean, safe, renewable energy, and action on climate change,  both of which are absolutely central to protecting the health, safety, and prosperity of future generations.
  • The Government’s illogical attempts to hamper renewable growth are being blocked for good reason, but uncertainty is all it needs to achieve its goal. Uncertainty over the RET’s future has already set the industry back 12 years, reducing investment by 88 per cent. It seems strange that an industry that is growing exponentially around the globe, an industry that would create jobs and uses innovative technology, would be stomped on by a Government.
  • The point of growing Australia’s renewable energy industry is not only to transition to clean energy, but also to displace the dirtiest forms of coal power as soon as possible. Reports are increasingly finding that solar is not only already economic, but on the cusp of grid parity and being the cheapest form of energy in most parts of the world. If the Abbott government was serious about reducing power bills for consumers and taking real action on climate change, it would not only keep the 41,000GWh renewable energy target, but commit to expanding it down the line, and it certainly would not still be talking about getting rid of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation after boasting about its effectiveness.

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Key quotes

  • “This is nothing but a political scare campaign and I think the minister should resign. How can you preside over an industry in your portfolio that you are trying to kill? This is beyond the pale. The government is out of control. Mr Hunt and [Industry Minister] Ian Macfarlane are stoking public and industry fears in an absolutely unfounded way to get a political outcome.” Australian Solar Council head John Grimes.
  • “We’ve been quite transparent about our position on this. There’s a strong consensus in the renewable energy sector on a desire to resolve this. But there’s also a strong consensus on what reduction in the target the industry is willing to accept. We’ve made this quite clear and explicit – 31,000 is quite clearly a number we’re not prepared to accept.” Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton.
  • “If Tony Abbott has made a Captain’s Call on the Renewable Energy Target, he really needs to share it with everyone, given it’s his own interference that has created a year of uncertainty and crippled the renewable energy industry. […] Tony Abbott is so ideologically opposed to renewable energy, he still wants to see a significant reduction in the RET.” Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler during earlier RET negotiations.
  • “My sense is there is an ideological agenda at work, not a rational one.” Solar retailer Sungevity founder Danny Kennedy, in relation to the RET review.

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More tweets

  • MT @GreensMPs: The numbers speak for themselves. @billshortenmp @SenKimCarr keep your word, #ProtectTheRET we have. http://t.co/NnJXZOVuGj
  • RT @rtoinsider: Under the sun from @Guardian: Australia’s largest #solar farm set to sprout in Queensland – http://t.co/rHKstXrrRK
  • RT @AusSolarQuotes: Small-scale solar power installations reaches 3GW in Australia http://t.co/utNjUs9Nfw #Solar
  • MT @lima_kai: Literally moved off Parliament grounds to demonstrate our need to #ProtectTheRET waved to MPs in cars http://t.co/Nwtv4E6YH3