Australians want more renewables and lower power prices

Contributed by Jim Hayes

A recent ReachTell poll commissioned and released by Greenpeace, indicates that more than 70 percent of Australians want the government to boost renewable energy sources and believe this can be used to lower power prices.

This may not be the last word on the matter. But it does back and quantify other indicators of the growing popularity of renewables, and rising complaints about the escalating cost of energy.

Armed with the new evidence, Greenpeace is set to escalate its part in the campaign of many organisations, to pressure the Australian government to significantly lift its renewables targes. Part of this is to pressure the Victorian and Queensland governments, to block the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

The problem with the Australian government plan, is that it sets what widely regarded as a far too low emissions reduction target, in line with what some business groups, the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and National Farmers Federation, have been calling for.

They were backed over the last weekend by former Liberal prime minister John Howard.

On the other hand, failure to progress on renewables and emissions control has pushed Coalition conservatives have threatened to vote against the NEG in the parliament.

Final modelling by the Energy Security Board found that the national energy guarantee, will drive some increase in the share of renewables in the electricity market, and  suggests that by 2029-30 the share would be 36 percent, compared to the present 17 percent. This hardly enough compared the science’s call for a complete change.

Energy market analyst Reputex found that more renewables in the energy mix lowers electricity prices,

Supporters of the NEG insist that the main need is to assert certainty and stability in the energy sector. This does not necessarily mean that the NEG should be supported.

More than once, it has been asserted that the source of uncertainty.

No evidence has been presented to show that this is the case. And those who suggest this, fail to admit that the cost of these new technologies has been falling rapidly in recent times. It is cheaper to produce electricity with solar, wind and other natural means, and to use battery storage, than it is with the old methods.

Instability and uncertainty that does exist, is largely a product of the marketing and pricing mechanism that has been set up. It has created a power generation and supplier cartel, which has been given a free hand to fix prices, ration supply and sell at peak cost. This has been added to by government provisions that allow charging the consumer for infrastructure costs.

The incentive for business organisations to want to limit emission targets to as low level as possible and their support for the NEC is to avoid their members the cost of the transfer.

Although for the most part, they no longer deny the connection between these emissions and global warming, these business organisations continue to push to minimise any change, because they are driven by the incentive of avoiding their members thew cost of change.

Countering this, is the mounting evidence that spells out a looming catastrophe, unless there is a significant enough turn around. This is far more important than arguing about short-term costs. Larger businesses can cope, and smaller ones that cannot, can be assisted.

As environment minister Josh Frydenberg skits around Australia putting on his big sell, he needs to be reminded at every turn, that the performance of his government is far from good enough.

If he wants to bring in instability and lower prices to the consumer, he needs to deal with the cartel, stop the political sparring and come out with  an appropriate and clear policy, as well as substantially lift invest in renewables.



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