The Harvester Of Australian Renewable Energy’s Sorrow

Now that the coal dust of the Coalition’s election win is starting to settle; the soon-to-be clean energy corpses are easier to see.

It’s been a period of mourning for many with a stake in Australia’s renewable energy efforts; with Prime Minister-elect Abbott’s well-oiled scythe poised to ruthlessly slash its way through related programs.

Here’s a partial casualty list; victims of the war on a low-carbon future:

To be axed:

– Clean Technology Program
– Energy Efficiency Information Grants
– Clean Energy Skills package
– Clean Technology Focus for Supply Chain programs
– Connecting Renewables
– Climate Change Authority
– Climate Change Commission
– Geothermal and tidal elements of Direct Action.

To be gutted:

– “Million Solar Roofs” rebate to be halved and with a narrowed scope
– Money for the above to come out of ARENA’s budget
– Reports of a further $532M to be cut from ARENA

According to The Australian, 33 climate change related schemes run by seven departments and eight agencies will be collapsed into just three bodies run by two departments. Whether this will provide better efficiency or just more bottlenecks interfering with progress remains to be seen.

As is widely known, the Coalition Government has its sights set on bringing legislation to axe the carbon tax to the first sitting of new Parliament; but it also realises it may not get its wish until after the senate changes in July 2014 (and even then there is some doubt).

It still isn’t clear how much of the carbon tax assistance package that millions of Australian households benefit from will remain if the carbon tax should be quashed. For many, this was money that covered the all of the effects the tax had. Under the Labor government, the tax was about to make way for the cheaper ETS; but the assistance package would have remained unchanged.

While the Coalition appears to remain committed to a 20% Renewable Energy Target (RET); something else that isn’t clear is 20% of what figure – as currently legislated, which resulted in a 41,000 GWh  target; or given energy consumption projections are now less thanks to energy efficiency efforts, a lower final GWh figure.

The Coalition also remains committed to reviewing the RET next year. It’s the short period between reviews that has given some investors the jitters as it results in perceived instability.

The looming RET review may also give households interested in but who have been putting off installing solar panels some cause for concern. The promised rebates are by no means set in stone and won’t be for all – and current incentives for solar power systems could potentially also be at risk as a result of a review.

For the fossil fuel industry, the road ahead is a much different one; with all sorts of plans that will bring joy to its coal black heart and even more cha-ching to its oil-soaked pockets.

Coal, gas and oil industry lobbyists are reported to be descending on Canberra in droves, ready to slither and slide their way along an already very well greased path to the Coalition’s door.