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RET Review : 'Biased And Predetermined Outcome'


Australia - Renewable Energy Target Review
The latest on the Renewable Energy Target review indicates more strongly than ever that the best time to go solar may well be now.
The solar industry has grown accustomed to shocks and dirty tactics from corners desperately seeking to cling to Australia's old approach to energy. The shocks have continued as the RET Review process gets well under way.
In  a stakeholder meeting on Wednesday, the Expert Panel and modeling team stated modelling that incorporated benefits to network operators and the reduction of wholesale electricity prices resulting from renewable energy generation was "too hard" and would not be part of the RET Review. Furthermore, the parties stated these types of benefits amounted to a "wealth transfer" as opposed to "true benefits".
The Expert Panel and modeling team also stated any form of carbon pricing would be excluded from their modelling up to and beyond 2030.
Also, the government's 1 million solar roof policy will not be included in modeling unless funding for it is included in next month's Budget.
Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes states the RET Review process is heading to a biased and predetermined outcome.
".. this review is set to side with big business, giving little or no weight to the benefits of solar for householders, business and the community," he said.
"Clearly any model that fails to consider a carbon price (in any form) up to 2030, in the face of international action on climate change, is negligent and lacks any credibility."
Another major shock and related credibility issue resulting from the meeting mentioned on RenewEconomy was the Panel's appointment of ACIL Allen as chief advisor and modeller, a consultancy perceived to be cosy with the fossil fuel industry.
This announcement has added to previous concerns raised as to the suitability of some members of the Panel. 
Among many potential negative impacts, it's feared the outcome of the Review will see the slashing or abolishing of remaining subsidies that currently reduce the cost of solar power systems by up to thousands of dollars. The latest news should perhaps act as a warning signal to those still contemplating installing solar that they might want to act sooner rather than later.


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Gas Bills To Rise '$50 - $500 A Year'


Gas price increase - Australia
Comparatively economical gas hot water systems won't be so cheap to run soon.
While Australia will triple its gas production in the near future, prices are set to increase as well; adding even more pain to businesses and households still reeling from rapid electricity price rises.
The reason is much of the new gas will be exported to Asia, which pays almost triple the wholesale price of gas compared to locally. This will put upward pressure on domestic pricing.
The Consumer Utility Advocacy Centre's Martin Jones fears consumers won't see this coming and they could be facing bill rises of between $50 and $500 depending on gas consumption.
Australia's love affair with gas exports could also cost 100,000 local jobs according to Manufacturing Australia's Sue Morphet as the rises will have a marked effect on businesses relying on gas for various processes.
While businesses and consumers may not be able to halt the export gas juggernaut, they can take some steps to help protect themselves from the effects of it. 
Solar power can be utilised in 2 ways. Solar hot water systems can in many cases practically wipe out a water heating gas bill and a solar panel system used in conjunction with electric hot water storage can also offset water heating costs.
Gas price rises may be closer than many realise. For example, earlier this year it was reported AGL wants to add an extra 20 per cent for customers in the greater Sydney region and inland New South Wales. Origin Energy was also proposing a similar increase for the south-west of the state from July this year.
According to Zero Emissions' Matt Wright, common major gas appliances already have an electric competitor on price and performance; including induction cooktops, heat pumps and reverse cycle air-conditioners. 


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Wind And Solar Power Cheaper Than Nuclear Energy


Comparing the Cost of Low-Carbon Technologies
An analysis comparing the cost of low-carbon technologies has found wind and solar power to be clear winners.
New wind and solar can provide power at up to 50 percent lower generation costs than new nuclear and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) states the analysis, which is based on comparison of current feed-in tariffs in Germany with the agreed remueration for an upcoming new nuclear plant in the UK (Hinkley Point C) and current cost estimates for CCS. 
That's all well and good, but what about when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing?
While the analysis doesn't incorporate energy storage, to answer the intermittency issue it found that a reliable generation system based on wind, solar and gas as backup is 20 percent cheaper than a system of new nuclear power plants combined with gas.
The analysis also doesn't take into account future technology cost reductions in any of the four technologies, but notes solar PV and wind are expected to produce electricity at even lower cost in the future - but that isn't the case for nuclear. 
With regard to CCS, as an operating commercial CCS-enabled power plant is still a mythical beast, estimates from the UK presented likely indicate the lower end of CCS costs that will be incurred in the future. The paper's authors state studies estimate CCS to cost about as much as new nuclear power or more.
As for a predominantly coal or gas CCS system, these were not included as these were "even less competitive in comparison to PV and onshore wind."
The study was commissioned by Germany's Agora Energiewende and carried out by Prognos AG. "Comparing the Cost of Low-Carbon Technologies: What
is the Cheapest Option?" can be viewed in full here (PDF).


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