Australia rejects clean energy target for cheaper power

October 17, 2017 by Rod Mcguirk

The Australian government on Tuesday rejected a plan to generate 42 percent of the country's power from wind and solar energy, in a setback for compliance with climate change commitments

Conservation groups have condemned the ruling conservative coalition for abandoning the renewable energy target for 2030 that was recommended this year by Australia's chief scientist to comply with the Paris climate change agreement.

The government instead plans to require power companies to provide a certain minimum amount of power from coal, gas and hydroelectric generation. Reliance on solar and wind generation would be limited according to the needs of each state for guarantee of supply.

The policy change will end subsidies paid to wind and solar generators from 2020, to help reduce costs for consumers.

"Past energy plans have subsidized some industries, punished others and slugged consumers," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement.

"The Turnbull government will take a different approach," he added.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told Parliament that coal and gas would generate 64 to 72 percent of Australia's electricity by 2030.

Coal and gas will account for 76.5 percent by 2020, meaning Australia was on track to achieve its current clean energy target of 23.5 percent of electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro by then, Frydenberg said.

Hydro is reliable, clean and renewable but is a fairly small component of the energy mix.

Australians per capita are among the world's worst greenhouse gas polluters because of the country's heavy reliance on its abundant coal reserves for power. But no new coal-fired generators are being built because of uncertainty over how Australia intends to achieve its greenhouse gas cuts.

Australia was about to overtake Qatar as the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas but the government has restricted exports because state governments have created a domestic supply shortage by blocking new gas field development.

Mark Wakeham, chief executive of Environment Victoria, a Victoria state-based conservation group, accused the government of rejecting "a clean energy target in favor of a coal energy target."

"Australia joins Donald Trump's United States as one of only two major national governments to remove support for investment in renewable energy and redirect it to aging and polluting power stations," Wakeham said in a statement.

The government has accused center-left Labor Party-controlled states of irresponsibly switching to clean electricity sources at the cost of ensuring reliable supply.

The government blames a heavy reliance on wind and solar energy for a statewide blackout in South Australia during a storm in 2016. The state's power operator, however, said the outage was unavoidable due to the storm's ferocity.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a business advocacy group, welcomed the government's plan, saying it would cut costs for power, ensure reliability and meet Australia's carbon emission reduction targets while maintaining international competitiveness.

Australia's Paris target is to reduce emissions by 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

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TrollBane
5 / 5 (2) Oct 17, 2017
Hydroelectric power in Australia is limited because Australia is the flattest continent and also the driest.

I see other stories here about studies showing new Australian wind farms produce cheaper electricity that coal or gas plants, so what's the real motivation here?
MR166
2.3 / 5 (4) Oct 17, 2017
I think that stories is the key word here. Papers lie and only deal with the facts that support the authors cause. Climate science is 50% science and 50% political agenda.
rderkis
1.3 / 5 (4) Oct 17, 2017
President Donald Trump will get blamed for this. :-) Because we all know he is a God and is responsible for everything.
greenonions1
3 / 5 (2) Oct 17, 2017
Mean time in the real world - the transition to cheaper renewable energy continues unabated - http://renewecono...n-89876/ Stupid dinosaurs like Trump, Perry, Turnbull, and MR166 still support coal. The really interesting point is to watch the Conservatives - who historically have claimed to be pro free market, and against gubermint picking winners and losers - now go silent as the libertarian fan boys like Trump and Perry - now advocate gubermint pouring billions into propping up yesterday's industry. The hypocrisy is sickening - but they still won't be able to stop the transition to renewables - the numbers are compelling.
rderkis
2 / 5 (4) Oct 17, 2017
hypocrisy is using electricity when some of it comes from coal. Since you use lights somewhere and use the electricity for the internet you are posting on here, you are the hypocrite.
leetennant
5 / 5 (1) Oct 17, 2017
Hydroelectric power in Australia is limited because Australia is the flattest continent and also the driest.

I see other stories here about studies showing new Australian wind farms produce cheaper electricity that coal or gas plants, so what's the real motivation here?


This government is basically owned by the mining companies. Australia is halfway to becoming a corporate oligarchy. In the 'mining states', it's even worse. The thing is, the insistence on maintaining fossil fuel generated power has meant that prices are skyrocketing. In states where there has been significant renewable development, prices are ok but for general consumers power bills are going through the roof. This move will make things worse and all to prop up the profits of the companies funding the current government.
greenonions1
3 / 5 (2) Oct 17, 2017
hypocrisy is using electricity when some of it comes from coal
I am signed up for 100% wind power. It costs a little extra. What would you have me do derkis - blow up the remaining coal plants? The transition to renewables is a slow process. It is of course better to phase out the old system - and phase in the new - in a orderly process. It may take us 50 years - but we are getting there one step at a time. Texas just announced the closure of more coal plants - and look at the economics - "The unsubsidized cost for wind was $32 to $62." And the cost keeps dropping derkis. One is not a hypocrite for paying attention to the facts. From - https://www.dalla...o-plants
rderkis
1 / 5 (3) Oct 17, 2017
One is not a hypocrite for paying attention to the facts.


I could not agree with you more but at the present time there is a need for coal.

Look at you, if you make more that $18,000 a year, you are in the upper 4% of the people in the world. Standing up there you would deprive the have nots of the only way they can afford some of the necessities.
You are so well off, you don't even know it.
MR166
2 / 5 (5) Oct 18, 2017
"I am signed up for 100% wind power."

Good for you. It is not many people that would tolerate not having electricity on a 24/7 basis.
leetennant
5 / 5 (3) Oct 18, 2017
"I am signed up for 100% wind power."

Good for you. It is not many people that would tolerate not having electricity on a 24/7 basis.


You see, we have this amazing thing these days called "the power grid". "The grid" is an extraordinary invention whereby you get power from multiple sources distributed throughout "the grid". Amazingly, you can get 100% 24/7 power from renewables using this "grid". I know this amazing breaking edge technology will come as a revelation to you. That's why I wanted to introduce it to you.
Be astonished.
greenonions1
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 18, 2017
derkis
I could not agree with you more but at the present time there is a need for coal
Yes - and I have never said any different. But we are transitioning to a better way of generating power - that is not going to have the extreme environmental impact of fossil fuels. I grew up in Britain - and lived in Wales - where many towns are 100% dependent on coal mining. Youtube Aberfan if you are interested in a look at the cost of this. Watch "How Green Was My Valley" some time. You might get an understanding of the cost of economies that are dependent on the killing machines of coal mines. When the whistle blew - the whole town came running - because there had been another cave in. So when wind and solar become cheaper than fossil fuels (that is happening now) - we should celebrate progress - and go with the cheaper/cleaner/better fuel source. Read leetennant's comment above. It is about progress.

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