Renewables Could Revitalise Australian Manufacturing: Shorten

Shorten - Australian renewables manufacturing

Zero – that’s the number of times solar and renewable energy were mentioned in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s Budget speech on May 3. Opposition leader Bill Shorten fared better on that front in his Budget reply speech on Thursday evening.

In the speech, Mr. Shorten said Labor views renewables as a means of giving new life to Australia’s manufacturing sector.

“By 2030, there will be $2.5 trillion of investment in renewable energy in the Asia-Pacific. Australian workers should be collaborating with our universities and researchers to design, manufacture and export battery technology, solar panels and turbine parts. These are not niche markets or boutique industries. Embracing clean technology and renewable energy can revitalise advanced manufacturing in this country,” said Mr. Shorten.

“In the last two years, the global economy added 2 million renewable energy jobs – but Australia lost 2,600. The world is powering ahead – and we are going in the wrong direction. It’s time to turn things around.”

Labor will be going to the next election with the promise of implementing a target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030. On Thursday night, the party also committed to future capital grant funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA); which was welcomed by the Clean Energy Council.

“While it is disappointing that this has not been cemented with a firm budgetary commitment, we look forward to working with the ALP to ensure it delivers the necessary level of funding, should the party be successful at the upcoming election,” said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton

Strong solar + storage policies will have clout in Federal Election 2016 and it’s not clear yet whether the Turnbull Government has anything up its sleeve to woo solar-supporting voters.

The Greens certainly do.

Last week, the Greens announced a policy providing a 50 per cent tax credit on residential battery storage system purchases, additional grants for low income households and support for uptake of storage by businesses in the form of accelerated depreciation.

The Greens will reportedly use the policy as a bargaining chip with the Turnbull government in relation to Budget 2016. The Greens have set a goal of shifting Australia to 90% renewables by 2030.