Today’s news comes from down under that construction of the southern hemisphere’s largest solar PV plant is getting underway. This follows swiftly on from the announcement that Australia has recently completed its 2 millionth small-scale renewable installation.
On first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that Australia’s time in the renewable sun is just around the corner. Yet AGL Energy’s 102MW Nyngan Solar Plant provides a false glimmer of hope for Australian renewables, which are struggling to break through the billowing smoke of the fossil fuel industry.
Our Verdantix Energy Profile of Australia, highlighted how power generation is overwhelmingly dominated by fossil fuels, with coal generating 70% of electricity, dwarfing both wind and solar at 2% and 1% respectively.
It appears the clouds are gathering for renewables as the government is planning to“review” (water down) the Renewable Energy Target – a subsidy scheme which has underpinned the surge in solar and wind investment in recent years.
Elected in September 2013 on a mandate to scrap the carbon tax, the Coalition is on the warpath to put renewables on the backburner and cement Australia’s dependency on fossil fuels.
Details released in December on the Emissions Reduction Fund - the cornerstone of the Coalition’s new energy and climate change legislation – reveals that the firms failing to meet emissions reductions targets will most likely go unpunished.
With a declining manufacturing sector, the Coalition is pinning its hopes export-led economic growth by shipping raw materials to Asian markets. As such it has announced a wave of tax breaks for mining firms such as the Exploration Development Incentive and the abolition of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.
In its latest move to pander to heavy industry, the government has approved plans todump dredged sediment in the Great Barrier Reef as part of plans to expand the Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland.
Indian firms Adani and GVK both plan to build export terminals at Abbot Point to ship Australia’s black gold to the subcontinent.