Australia steps up its attack on renewables

Leonards Hill Community Wind Farm, Victoria, Australia. Photo credit: David Clarke via Flickr.

By Anders Lorenzen

The Australian government has moved further in trying to kill the country’s renewable energy industry. Last year they repealed the carbon tax and, as a result,the investment in renewables has seen a dramatic decline. And last week the government, lead by climate skeptic Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, said they would ban the green investment bank from investing in wind and small scale solar.

Last week the government announced that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which is the green investment bank, should not make any further investments in wind power, and a few days later, nor in small scale solar. CEFC should instead focus on emerging technologies. The government did not detail what those emerging technologies would be.

Conditions in Australia for wind power are among the best in the world and, despite opposition, the technology has enjoyed some remarkable successes. Australia’s leading wind power state, South Australia, has set impressive generation records. And needless to say, with the amount of sunshine the continent receives, the solar power industry has huge potential.

But while solar and wind are under attack, the Great Barrier Reef already known to be in a fragile condition is also at further risk. The government intends to extend the workings of an existing coal port, Abbot Point, that would be the largest in the world, all within the zone of the UNESCO- listed coral reef.  However, UNESCO has recently acknowledged that the reef is in danger and has placed it on a watch list.

This war on wind and solar has not unsurprisingly been attacked by the opposition Labor and environmental groups. Labor called it a relentless attack on the renewable energy industry’, while Greenpeace in a blog post highlighted that Australians actually want and like renewables

The Australian government has been accused of adopting its own views on wind turbines into national policy. Prime Minister Abbott has described turbines as ‘visually awful,’ while the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, called them ‘utterly offensive’. Various claims ,about noise levels and that turbines make you ill, have entered the debate , and has later been proved incorrect.

The newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald,  reported that Abbott has been warned that the move is putting international investments at risk, and that it will affect investor confidence.

The move will cost Australia thousands of clean energy jobs.

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