renewable energy

Power and gas prices are set to rise by a huge 16–19% on July 1, bringing a profit bonanza to the big three electricity companies — AGL, Origin and Energy Australia.

This unpopular price hike comes in the context of record low wage growth, record high housing prices and record levels of household debt.

The federal government is covering for the price hikes by blaming state governments for ruling out unconventional gas (Victoria), or moving too fast to renewables and not planning ahead (South Australia).

Community campaigners rallied in Port Augusta on April 30 to make a final call for the South Australian government to build a new solar thermal power plant in the town.

Readers may have noticed that Australia is in the midst of an energy war. On one side are right-wing commentators attacking renewable energy at every turn. On the other side are renewables advocates, quick to retaliate, sometimes without considering the whole story.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk should hang her head in shame. She has proven once again that the word “Labor” in “Australian Labor Party” has no connection with the interests of working people in Australia — or anywhere else.

Palaszczuk headed a delegation to India on March 17 to underscore her government’s support for the Adani company’s proposed Carmichael thermal coalmine. If it is given the go ahead, it will be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world. It would be the first for the Galilee Basin, and it would open the door to more.

According to the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), electricity supply will be threatened as early as next year by “shortfalls in gas”, or failing that, households may face cuts to their gas supply

The Victorian government announced on March 14 a $20 million tender, to install up to 80MW of grid-scale energy storage by 2018.

It invited proposals from batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air, flywheel, and solar thermal technologies.

But its deadlines, of 30MW expected to be installed by next summer and 50MW by the following summer, are impossible for two of those technologies to meet.

Pumped hydro facilities take several years to build, because dams, tunnels and pipelines would need to be built.

Generating electricity using renewable energy is now cheaper than using fossil fuels, but mining companies, banks and governments in Australia continue to invest significantly more in coal, oil and gas than wind and solar. 

The list of things renewable energy can be blamed for received a creative contribution from little-known Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly on November 7 when he linked renewable energy with child drownings.

His argument went like this: environmentalists promote renewable energy policies; renewable energy will drive up the cost of electricity; public swimming pools require electricity to filter and heat; higher electricity prices mean pools will have to either cut swimming lessons or charge more for them; fewer children will learn to swim; therefore, more children will drown.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on October 25 that last year, thanks to cost reductions and significant policy support in key countries, renewables have surpassed coal to become the largest source of installed power in the world. This has prompted the IEA to significantly boost its five-year forecast for renewable energy growth.

Wind and solar may be leading the way in Australia’s renewable energy race, but there’s another contender lurking in the nation’s oceans.

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