What does the Federal Election Result Mean for Solar?

Coalition and Labor battle it out in electric vehicles push ahead of May election.

The Federal election result is in. What does the Scott Morrison miracle victory – and predicted majority government – mean for solar and climate change?

The good news is that the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) – unofficially known as the Federal Government’s solar ‘rebate’- will continue through to 2030.  Without the SRES, the cost of ‘going solar’ would be around 25-30% higher.  And now with Tony Abbott, blasted out of his formerly safe seat of Warringah, by pro-climate change Zali Steggall, there’s at least one less detractor of the SRES within government.

However, the SRES is not set in stone and it has been criticised by likes of the ACCC and retailer Origin who want to see it gone.  Given its powerful opponents, and also the fact that it is diminishing in value each year, it makes good sense for households and businesses thinking of ‘going solar’ to get solar installed whilst the going is still good!

Zali Steggall, independent politician endorsing ACE Australian Electric Vehicle at SEC 2019

Zali Steggall sits in an Aussie-made electric vehicle at the SEC 2019 expo last month. She beat former PM Tony Abbott in his seat of Warringah.

Federal election result means maintainence of status quo

The LNP has no other policies that directly subsidise household solar or batteries. However through its $3.5bn investment in climate change through the Climate Solutions Package it promises to help homes and businesses improve their energy efficiency, as well as improve the labelling on space heaters.

So what to expect from the Federal election result?  Here’s a recap of the Coalitions Key Climate policies:

  • Emissions reduction target: 26-28% by 2030 on 2005 levels.
  • Net zero emissions by 2050 (as part of the Paris Climate Agreement)
  • 23.5% renewables by 2020.  Not post-2020 renewable energy target.
  • Maintain the small-scale renewable energy scheme which provides a financial incentive for individuals and businesses to install small-scale renewable energy systems such as rooftop solar, solar water heaters and heat pumps. There is no limit on the amount of renewable energy production under the SRES. The scheme expires in 2030.
  • No plans to phase out coal. Approvals to move ahead with the development of the Adani Carmichael coal mine are in place.
  • Energy efficiency package for commercial and residential building owners.
  • Develop a National Electric Vehicle Strategy

No change is expected from this position, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.  The question is who will be responsible for carrying these policies out? The incumbent Environment Minister, the invisible Melissa Price, may go.  If a replacement comes, it’s likely in the form of someone who’s a safe pair of hands to follow through on the Morrison climate agenda.

Challenging times for climate action

It’s going to be interesting – and challenging times – for the climate.  Why?

Firstly, the LNP does recognise the need to act on climate – and have policies in place – but many believe them to be inadequate to meet the growing climate emergency.

Secondly, Labour’s ambitious climate agenda is likely to be watered down due to the thrashing in the polls with voices like Labour’s Joel Fitzgibbon in the traditional blue collar seat of Hunter who narrowly retained his seat saying that Labour needs to shift back to the centre.

It will be interesting to watch and see what happens.

Federal election result impact on the future

Fast looming issues include:

  • what’s going to happen when the Renewable Energy Target ends in 2020?
  • What about the ‘political hot potato’ of the National Energy Guarantee; will it see some form of resurrection?
  • And critically, since the LNP is putting jobs at the forefront of its decision to continue to back Adani, what will happen if the promised 10,000 jobs from Adani’s Carmichael coal mine don’t eventuate as some experts are predicting.

One thing’s certain though.  And that’s the unstoppable uptake of rooftop solar. Because householders and businesses across Australia, regardless of their political persuasion, ‘get’ that solar makes sense.  The Federal election result won’t change that.

There’s a lesson there for the political parties.  They need to clearly explain – and demonstrate – to the electorate that a shift to an economy based on renewables makes sense on all fronts: jobs, the economy, the environment.  This will happen – it’s just a question of how quickly.