Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Review for clean power credits

Courier Mail
Friday 6/11/2009 Page: 39

FEDERAL and state governments are to review policies criticised for failing to help large-scale clean energy projects that would reduce our reliance on carbon-emitting coal-fired power. Proponents of wind, solar, geothermal and tidal power have criticised aspects of Australia's renewable energy target. It was to carve a niche for clean energy projects by mandating they form 20% of Australia's electricity supply by 2020. But it has been criticised for including credits for technologies that don't generate electricity, which has weakened market prices and made large-scale clean energy generation projects less viable.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong yesterday said a Council of Australian Governments review would examine market pricing factors. Alternative energy advocate Damien Moyse said the RET should be used purely to develop emerging clean electricity sources such as from wind farms, solar and geothermal plants, and not for energy-saving technologies such as solar hot water systems that could be supported by other measures.

The Federal Government is under intense pressure from the mining industry to divert more money to it under a market-based mechanism that would be used to control and lower Australia's carbon emissions. The Minerals Council of Australia has said more than 15,000 jobs would be lost in the coal industry by 2030 if the carbon pollution reduction scheme was introduced because there would be liabilities for greenhouse gases produced by mining. Rio Tinto has said the CPRS could drive the closure of half its open-cut mines by 2020.

But a recent Citi Investment Research report into the potential impact of the current CPRS plan concluded: "Our results do not lead to significant concerns about mine closures." Citi Investment Research said the coal industry appeared to be pushing for assistance of about $1 billion annually in the first 10 years of the CPRS. Citi Investment Research said this would equate to taxpayers paying roughly $100,000 a year for each of the 9900 jobs saved.