With only a few days until the Federal Election, the major parties have declared their renewable energy policies.
Early in the election campaign the CEC published ‘Power Shift’, our blueprint for a 21st century energy system. We pitched it to politicians across the political spectrum and it is pleasing to see some high level support for the policy measures we asked for. However, while there is some common ground between the major parties, stark differences remain.
In Power Shift the CEC called on all parties to undertake a review of options for increased transmission interconnection between the states. In a rare display of energy policy bipartisanship, both the Coalition and Labor committed to working towards a second Basslink electricity cable across Bass Strait. Another key area of bipartisanship is the 2020 Renewable Energy Target, with both the Coalition and Labor providing assurances it will remain locked in.
The Coalition made several clean energy commitments that would draw on funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). These included a clean energy investment program for the agricultural sector, funding for sustainable city projects, and for the coastal hinterland of the Great Barrier Reef. The Coalition reaffirmed its intention to remove $1.3 billion from the budget of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The headline for the ALP’s clean energy policy was a 50 per cent target for renewable energy by 2030. It committed to an emissions trading scheme to cap emissions from the electricity sector and a long-term plan to support workers and communities affected by the transition away from coal-fired power. The CEC was also very pleased by the ALP’s commitment to a broad review of the National Electricity Market (NEM) to ensure its objectives and laws will assist with the modernisation of our electricity system for the 21st century.
The ALP announced it would set aside more than $300 million of ARENA funding for Concentrated Solar Thermal and to establish a Community Power Network and Regional Hubs. It also committed to work with the newly appointed Board to understand other areas requiring grant funding support by ARENA. It promised an ALP Federal Government would lead by example as a direct purchaser of renewable energy.
Not surprisingly, The Greens’ renewable energy policy is more aggressive and ambitious than either of the major parties, with a headline commitment of 90% renewable energy by 2030. Other clean energy policies from The Greens included a new $500 million government renewable energy authority, a $250 million Clean Energy Transition Fund, a $102.9 million Solar Communities Program, a $150 million fund for 50 Community Energy powerhouses, and favorable tax treatment for investment in community-owned clean energy and investments by households and businesses in battery storage.