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                    [post_date] => 2017-11-21 05:49:10
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The Council of Australian Government Energy Council meets in Hobart this Friday (24 November) to try to bring some order to Australia’s fractious energy policy. It will be the first meeting held since the announcement of the Federal Government’s National Electricity Guarantee (NEG). The Government is promoting the NEG as an alternative to the Chief Scientist’s recommended Clean Energy Target. It includes a scrapping of the existing Renewable Energy Target after 2020. Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg says the NEG will ensure 28 percent renewable energy by 2030, and has rubbished the ALP’s policy of 50 percent renewables by that date, calling it irresponsible. Unfortunately for the Government and Mr Frydenberg, two major independent reports, one of them commissioned by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, have supported Labor’s target. The most important of these reports is from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), about as august a body as we have in this country (it brings together the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering). The ACOLA report was done in partnership with the Chief Scientist. It represents the best thinking on the matter, by the most eminent scientists. “At an aggregated national level, Australia can reach penetrations of 50 percent renewable energy without a significant requirement for storage to support energy reliability,” says the report. “Installing the levels of storage power capacity (GW) required for the purpose of security creates the opportunity to expand energy stored (GWh) capacity for reliability at a lower marginal cost than would otherwise be the case.” The report says Australia could be a world leader in renewables, but it was being held back by poor planning. It also says that the Government has a role to play in educating the public about the technology. This is so at odds with what is actually happening that it can only be seen as a rebuke to current Government policy. It is already providing ammunition to the Federal Opposition and the Labor states ahead of Friday’s COAG meeting. The ACOLA report can be found here. Another report, from the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures and commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, says the much the same thing. The report focuses on the ageing Liddell coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley, slated for closure by owner AGL and something of a cause celebre by adherents of coal, who want its life extended. It is called ‘Beyond Coal: Alternatives to Extending the Life of Liddell Power Station’ and contains more bad news for the Government: “Replacing the Liddell coal power station with clean energy and other smart solutions would slash climate pollution and be more than $1.3 billion cheaper than the Turnbull Government’s proposal to keep the ageing plant open past its use by date,” says the report. ACF Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy, said the results showed Australia’s elected representatives were holding the country back by stalling a comprehensive plan for the swift transition to clean energy. “Australia desperately needs a comprehensive climate change policy that will facilitate the rapid transition to a clean energy future,” Ms O’Shanassy said. “Any climate change and energy policy, be it the National Energy Guarantee or another proposal, must be designed to encourage as much clean energy and smart technology as possible, and not prop-up polluting coal plants that are damaging our planet.” The ACF report can be found here. The Government consistently accuses the opponents of its energy policy as being driven by ideology. But on the weight of evidence, it would seem that the opposite is the case. COAG meetings are intended to bring about a consensus between Australia’s top two tiers of government. A consensus on energy policy appears unlikely, which will add to the very uncertainty that these two reports and many observers say is one of the major causes of the lack of investment and planning which is driving energy prices up in Australia. The COAG Energy Council issues Communiques after its meetings, which have become much more frequent in recent times. The one from next Friday’s meeting should make interesting reading. [post_title] => Battle lines drawn for energy COAG [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => battle-lines-drawn-energy-coag [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-21 08:20:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-20 21:20:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28589 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28459 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-11-06 09:17:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-05 22:17:01 [post_content] =>

Australia is a laggard compared to other countries when it comes to encouraging the use of electric vehicles (EVs). The ACT is the only jurisdiction in Australia which offers any sort of incentive to motorists to go electric. This is in stark contrast to most of the rest of the developed world. Most countries in Europe, and many states in the USA and provinces in Canada, offer tax breaks such as registration discounts, lower sales tax, and reduced tolls. There are also preferential parking schemes and other incentives. But not in Australia, one of the world’s highest per capita carbon emitters. White the recalcitrance on matters environmental is well known at the federal level, Australia’s states could also be doing a lot to encourage EV use. They are not. Last month two major reports on EV usage in Australia were published. Both are damning in their views on the situation in this country. ‘The Future is Electric’ was released by the NRMA, the country’s largest motoring organisation, and the Electric Vehicle Council. “The humble car is undergoing a major paradigm shift,” says the report. “Manufacturers and technology companies are rapidly moving the automotive industry towards an electric and automated future. As trends around the world point to increasing numbers of electric vehicles, jurisdictions have begun to put in place strategies to phase out petrol and diesel propulsion.” But not in Australia. The report outlines the widespread and growing use of EVs in many countries, and compares that to the miniscule takeup in Australia, where just 0.1 percent of cars sold last year were electric. It makes a number of recommendations on how to turn things around. It wants more charging stations. The NRMA has taken the initiative to build these itself, and recently announced a $10 million investment for 40 charging stations around NSW and the ACT, in range of 95 percent of its members. But its strongest recommendations have to do with more EV-friendly government policies. “The Australian Government should remove impediments to the purchasing of electric vehicles,” it says. “Australia has a low uptake of electric vehicles compared with our global counterparts. Less than one per cent of Australian vehicles currently possess electric drivetrain technology. The Australian Government should provide a short-term exemption to Fringe Benefits Tax and abolish the Luxury Car Tax for electric vehicles and associated infrastructure to encourage mass adoption.” The report also calls for governments to demonstrate leadership by buying EVs for their own fleets, which are substantial. It also wants more intergovernmental cooperation: “The transition to EVs will provide significant benefits across energy, transport, public health, infrastructure and industry development. The Australian Government should establish an intergovernmental working group, representing governments, industry and consumers, tasked with establishing a roadmap for the co-ordinated transition to electric road transport, including the deployment of associated infrastructure.” It points out Australia’s almost total reliance on imported vehicle fuel, linking EVs with energy security. Another major report, from The Australia Institute, makes many of the same points. “Governments around the world offer incentives to support electric vehicles. Australia does not,” says the report, which goes on to examine how Australia can boost electric vehicle sales “in four proven, low-cost ways.” The report, If you build it, they will charge, looks at policies Australian governments can implement to overcome barriers to EV usage. “If governments act now to support the development of the market, financial and environmental benefits will flow.” It proposes four incentives
  • A Luxury Car Tax exemption for electric vehicles, to better target the scheme’s two-tiered threshold structure towards environmental outcomes.
  • Charging station rebates, which would boost rollout of electric vehicle infrastructure and minimise duplication of sites and technological standards.
  • A scheme to reduce the upfront cost of electric vehicles without cost to the budget.
  • An offer to allow electric vehicles to utilise bus lanes in congested urban centres, supported by a rollout of EV-only license plates.
“Public interest in electric vehicles continues to rise and policies to support electric vehicles are popular. Polling for The Australia Institute shows that nearly two thirds of voters support incentives for electric vehicles.” But there are none.

Comment

The energy debate in Australia has been dominated by pricing and renewable targets. EVs have not received much attention. It is high time they did. The disparity between the inaction of Australia’s governments on EVs and the situation in many other countries is stark. Australia seems stuck in a time warp, unable to follow, let alone lead. There is no excuse. Encourage the use of EVs should be an integral part of Australia’s energy policy. Oh – hang on … we don’t have one. [post_title] => Australian governments slow on electric vehicles [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => australian-governments-slow-electric-vehicles [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-07 06:52:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-06 19:52:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28459 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28452 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-11-05 07:01:48 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-04 20:01:48 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_28470" align="alignnone" width="287"] Ross Garnaut (© Coombs Photography)[/caption] Influential energy and climate economist Professor Ross Garnaut says Western Australia should adopt a state based emissions intensity scheme. He is recommending and Emissions Intensity Scheme (EIS) for the state. Professor Garnaut said WA could lead the world as a clean energy superpower. He believes its vast resources of renewable energy, and its isolation from the National Energy Market (NEM), present unique opportunities for the state to gain a global competitive advantage by transitioning to high levels of renewable energy, even as the rest of Australia “wallows in incoherent energy and emissions policy.” With the best renewable energy resources globally, Australia is the natural home for energy intensive industry investment in carbon-constrained world, said Professor Garnaut, speaking at a energy conference at Perth’s Murdoch University. “Australia has the potential to become an energy superpower in the low carbon world economy, but it needs to shake off the shackles of those with ideological or vested interest in the old ways of supplying energy,” he said. “Western Australia can benefit from its own vast and diverse renewable energy, mineral, land and marine resources and play a vital role contributing to the national and global transition to a zero carbon energy future. “WA’s policy independence from the NEM allows it to avoid legacy problems of high costs and unreliability in other states. Policies at state level elsewhere are presently driving much of the development in Australia.” The WA Labor Government was comfortably elected in March 2017, ending nine years of Liberal Party rule. New Premier Mark McGowan and his Energy Minister Ben Wyatt have moved slowly on announcing any state-based renewable energy target or energy policy, but are under increased pressure to do so. The WA Greens, with four members in the upper house, are strong supporters of renewable energy in the state. The Liberal and National parties, like their federal counterparts, are not so keen. Ross Garnaut is the man hired by Kevin Rudd in 2007 to examine the economic impact of climate change on the Australian economy and recommend ways to deal with it. His report, released in 2008, recommended an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as the best way of lowering carbon emissions. It was criticised by environmental organisations as being too weak and by business groups as being too costly. Ten years on, Australia has gone backwards and emissions continue to rise, with no abatement plan in sight and ideology counting for more than scientific fact. The Federal Government has rejected an ETS outright and has now ignored the advice of its own Chief Scientist, which it sought, for a renewable energy target. Conservation Council of WA Director Piers Verstegen said, “With national energy and climate policy in chaos, it is clear that WA needs to go it alone. The good news is that this can deliver a strong advantage for WA by attracting new jobs and investment to our state. “Professor Garnaut’s recommended EIS is an example of policy that could be adopted now by the WA Government to drive the transition to affordable renewable energy, and make our state a leader in the global clean energy economy of the future. "Whereas an ETS comes with a cap on overall carbon pollution, and EIS does not (it is focused on emissions intensity or emissions per unit of energy output). Thus it is important that any state-based intensity target is linked to an overall emissions reduction target for the whole economy or just the electricity sector, and reviewed regularly," Mr Verstegen told Government News. In 2016 renewable energy accounted for over 13 percent of all electricity consumed on Western Australia’s main electricity grid, the South West Interconnected System, including electricity consumed by households and businesses producing their own electricity from small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Overall, renewables accounted for about 7 percent of all electricity consumed in Western Australia. Energy Minister Ben Wyatt has had little to say about energy since entering government, perhaps because he is also Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. The WA ALP specifically ruled out a state-based RET before the March 2017 election, and Mr Wyatt is on record as saying that we would prefer a national approach to energy policy, a view not shared by the ALP in the eastern states. But the Government has not ruled out an EIS, as proposed by Professor Garnaut. Mr Wyatt was reported in the West Australian on 20 Octobers as saying: “I don’t think individual State models are as efficient and as effective for private sector investment as a national model. “That is always my preference. But I’m not sure what the national model is going to look like and we would have to have a bit of an understanding on that before we can make any comments around WA joining whatever it may or may not be.” No doubt his position will be clearer after the upcoming energy COAG expected to be held this month. [post_title] => WA urged to go it alone on renewables [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => wa-urged-go-alone-renewables [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-07 15:18:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-07 04:18:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28452 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28356 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-25 09:00:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-24 22:00:15 [post_content] =>

They didn’t make a big deal of it, but the Productivity Commission’s new five-year overview report, commissioned by the Federal Government, has recommended the introduction of a carbon price. The productivity commission is of course an advisory body, and the Government has explicitly ruled out a price on carbon or anything that can even remotely be referred to as a tax. Like many other recommendations of the Government, this will be ignored. Nevertheless, it is worth hearing what the Commission has to say. In a section in the report titled ‘Fixing the Energy mess’, it writes: “Australian energy markets, particularly those in eastern Australia, are in a fragile state. While the statewide blackout in South Australia, on 28 September 2016, was initially caused by nature, the duration of the blackout brought issues about the security and stability of the national electricity grid to the fore. “The estimated cost of the statewide blackout in South Australia was $367 million. With electricity and gas making up 2.5 percent of GDP, and being an essential input for all industries, the cost of failure to resolve the problems will only rise in the future. “It is too difficult to put a price tag on getting energy policy right, in large part as the counterfactual — what would happen if we continue to try to muddle through without clarity on carbon pricing — is impossible to define. Nonetheless, the returns from the reforms outlined here would be worth many billions. “Lack of clarity on emission reduction policies, increasing reliance on intermittent and variable renewable energy, moratoria on gas exploration and development, and the commencement of gas exports from the east coast, have all contributed to a system under pressure. “The challenge is how to resolve these issues while maintaining an affordable, reliable and sustainable supply of energy going forward — dubbed the ‘energy trilemma’ by the recent Finkel Review.” Then, the clincher. A recommendation that Australia should “stop the piecemeal and stop-start approach to emission reduction, and adopt a proper vehicle for reducing carbon emissions that puts a single effective price on carbon.” The idea of a price on carbon is quite simple. The burning of carbon-based fuels increases greenhouse gas emissions, which impose cost on the broader community. When there is no price on carbon, this consumption is essentially subsidised. The Government has announced the end of the comparatively modest subsidies given to renewable energy sources, while retaining the massive subsidies given to the carbon economy. Last week the Conservative United Kingdom Government announced the introduction of a carbon price. But not only has Australia’s conservative party ruled it out, it actually repealed one already in existence. On carbon pricing and renewable energy subsidies, Australia is going backwards. The country still has no clear energy policy, and while the Government dithers and appeases its troglodytic climate change deniers, a lack of investment caused by policy uncertainty continues to drive energy prices up. Quizzed about the government’s new back-of-the-envelope National Energy Guarantee last week, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, like the Prime Minister, refused to guarantee prices would come down. He said he was very confident they would, but the Guarantee is no guarantee. The Productivity Commission and many economists have recommended a price on carbon. The Government’s Chief Scientist has recommended a renewable energy target. The Government has overruled them both. Although it presided over the mess we now find ourselves in, is asking us to trust it. There are none so blind as those that will not see. [post_title] => Even the Productivity Commission wants a carbon price – OPINION [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => even-productivity-commission-wants-carbon-price-opinion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-27 09:22:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-26 22:22:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28356 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28352 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-24 16:23:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-24 05:23:03 [post_content] =>

The Productivity Commission has released its first ever five-year productivity review, called ‘Shifting the Dial’. It was released in conjunction with the Commission’s annual report. It is “a look out across the landscape of factors and influences that may affect Australia's economic performance over the medium term, in order to offer advice on where our priorities should lie if we are to enhance national welfare.” The report has a chapter on ‘More effective governments’, which offers a critique of how government works in Australia and how it can be improved. “The effectiveness of government functioning is critical for continuously improving living standards,” says the report. “Governments set and re-set the legal and commercial rules of the game that give greater certainty to investors, and standards to protect employees and consumers. “Governments choose our service levels — in defence and trade, as well as the more obvious health and education — and they set incentives and provide information for the development of natural resources, and rules to protect the environment. “They fund infrastructure, and collect and reallocate tax revenue to reduce inequities in opportunity and outcomes. Above all, they manage the complex interaction of all these, across three levels of government, a task that often only comes to notice when it fails badly.” The Productivity Commission says that, while Australians’ trust in governments and their institutions is falling, there are practical things that can be done to make governments work better. It might be too much to ask, given the increasingly rancorous nature of political debate in Australia. Still, the Commission is to be commended for trying. Many of its observations, and its suggested fixes, seem spot-on. One key area of reform, says the commission, should be in intergovernmental relations. It says COAG is “currently not an effective reform vehicle. “A key will be that COAG chooses to restore its role as a vehicle for economic and social reform. The scope for the vital big reforms will require commitment to a joint reform agenda by all jurisdictions.” It also says that revenue-sharing is not working well and that governments “commit to tax changes that would improve revenue-sharing arrangements as an essential part of the agenda.” It says that budget constraints are weak, particularly at the federal level, and that there is insufficient cross-government understanding of long-term national spending pressures. It calls for strengthened accountability mechanisms. The report is accompanied by 16 supporting papers, including one specifically addressing local government. It is critical of the way many state governments have “delegated functions to councils without clear policy frameworks or well‑designed support. “In principle, meaningful information on how well local government services match the requirements of their communities and state governments, and their efficiency over time and against peers, should reduce the need for restrictions on revenue raising (by improving the accountability of local government to residents and taxpayers).” The wide-ranging report also examines the health system, skills and the future of work, the functionality of towns and cities, and improving the efficiency of markets. And it recommends a price on carbon. “Mediocrity beckons if we let it. In the future, we cannot rely on high commodity prices or, given an ageing Australia, labour participation rates, to drive national income. We might try to invest more to add to growth, but capital must be paid for, and investment to GDP rates are already at historically high levels, so there may not be much room to move. “That means that innovation and learning — doing things better — is the key for prosperity. Yet this has languished in Australia (and many other countries) for a decade.” The Productivity Commission has outlined the problems, and recommended some solutions. It is an excellent report, but the Government does not exactly have a good track record on taking the advice of experts – even (or especially) its own. The report is available here. [post_title] => Productivity Commission recipe for effective government [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => productivity-commission-recipe-effective-government [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-24 16:51:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-24 05:51:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28352 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28326 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-20 14:17:49 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-20 03:17:49 [post_content] =>

Australia is blessed – and cursed – with a federal system of government. It allows greater diversity, and also causes problems when it comes to the coordination of service delivery. The biggest disparity is have always been in education and health. In the last few years energy and climate change policy have also become contentious. The Federal Government’s recently announced National Electricity Guarantee, and its retreat from Renewable Energy Target (RET), means that the state targets are now much more important. The lack of a national policy makes it harder for the renewable energy industry, and almost guarantees that Australia will not meet the Paris climate change mitigation targets that it has signed up for. The government has said there will be a special COAG on energy in November. It is hoping for something resembling a national policy, but its own lack of leadership means this will not be possible. Meanwhile the states, because of a genuine concern over climate change or political expediency, will continue to set their own RETs. It seems likely that renewable energy and climate change policy will remain a politicised battleground in Australia for the foreseeable future. So it is perhaps timely to examine the policies of each of the states. In August the Climate Council released a report ‘Renewables Ready: States Leading the Charge’. It is available here, and is worth a read. But in just a few months things have changed. Such is the volatility and lack of certainty in what passes for energy policy debate in Australia that even that report is now out of date. So, how the states currently doing, and what policies will be that they be taking into the energy COAG next month?

New South Wales

NSW has a coalition government, but one which is not quite as noncommittal about climate and energy as its federal counterpart. It talks the talk on renewable energy, but it doesn’t walk the walk. It says it has a net zero emissions target of zero by 2050, which is what most of the other states say, but that is so far out as to be meaningless. It has a ‘Renewable Energy Action Plan’ which “positions the state to increase energy from renewable sources at least cost to the energy customer and with maximum benefits to NSW.” In other words it is mostly fluff. Its only mention of an actual number is that it supports “the former national target of 20 percent” renewables by 2020. The Climate Council gives it a low C rating,

Victoria

Victoria’s Labor government has set a renewables target of 20 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025. This year it introduced a ‘Renewable Energy (Jobs and Investment) Bill’ which will enshrine the state’s RET in legislation. The legislation, known as the VRET, has passed the lower house, but the conservative opposition has vowed to destroy it. The upper house, the Victorian Legislative Council, has a very large and diverse crossbench, similar to the Australian Senate. The Climate Council gives Victoria a B rating.

Queensland

Queensland’s Labor government holds power on a knife edge and is facing an election, after which the reactionary One Nation party, which is strongest in that state, may hold the balance of power. The government has a target of 50 percent renewables by 2030, which again is so far away is not to mean very much. The Government supports the giant Adani Coal mine, which dominates environmental debate in that state. Expect nothing to happen before the state election, due by May next year. The Climate Council gives Queensland a B rating.

South Australia

South Australia is the poster boy among the states for its renewable energy efforts. It is famously championed wind and solar energy. It has a target of 50 percent by 2025, and is already nearly there. Its recent deal with entrepreneur Elon Musk for the world’s largest battery storage facility has given the state a global prominence in renewables. It well publicised blackouts during storms last year have polarised the debate, with opponents blaming the problems when the state’s energy policy. The government has reiterated its commitment to renewables since the announcement of the Federal Government’s National Electricity Guarantee. The Climate Council gives South Australia an A rating.

Western Australia

Western Australia is the only state that is not part of the National Electricity Market (too expensive to get power lines across the Nullarbor), and it has a comparatively new Labour government which has said it will not introduce an RET. The Climate Council gives WA a C rating.

Tasmania

Tasmania is fortunate in having abundant hydroelectricity power, providing 90 percent of the state’s electricity. It is aiming for 100 percent by 2022. It does not figure strongly in the National RET debate, and has been given an A rating by the Climate Council.

ACT

The ACT’s RET of 100 percent by 2022 earns it an A rating from the Climate Council, but its small size makes it virtually irrelevant to the debate

Northern Territory

The NT has a meaningless renewable target of 50 percent by 2030, and like Western Australia and is not part of the national electricity market. Like the ACT and Tasmania, its policies carry no weight. If it looks a bit like a dog’s breakfast, that’s because that is what it is. And the biggest dog of all, the Federal Government, has skipped the meal altogether.   [post_title] => Renewable energy targets – a state-by state comparison [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => renewable-energy-targets-state-state-comparison [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-24 05:52:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-23 18:52:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28326 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28306 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-17 19:08:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-17 08:08:30 [post_content] =>

The Federal Government’s refusal to adopt the Chief Scientist’s recommendation for a Clean Energy Target has been roundly criticised by its political opponents. As you would expect. But what does it mean for the relationships between Australia’s different levels of government? The Government’s new policy sees the end of any subsidy for renewable energy after 2020, yet continues the effective subsidy of fossil fuels through the lack of a carbon price. It means that the unedifying and at times vicious squabbling that has marked what passes for debate on climate change and energy policy in this country will continue. The Federal Opposition has said, understandably, that it will not cooperate with the new policy and will oppose it in Parliament.Any dispassionate reading of the situation will show that it is Labor that has been prepared to compromise, and it is the Government that has retreated from bipartisanship. That fact alone will cause continued uncertainty, which most observers agree is a significant cause of the investment paralysis that is behind much of the increase in energy pricing in Australia in recent years. The Government's new policy is an energy policy first, with climate barely mentioned. It was developed unilaterally, with no reference to the states. Yet it is now demanding the very consensus it has conspicuously failed to deliver itself, and is asking for 'certainty' when it has been the main reason there is none. Its new policy is uncosted, unmodelled and -in the poisonous policy vacuum that it itself has created - unachievable. At the state level, the Labor States of Victoria, South Australia have indicated that they will pursue their own renewable targets.  Both are facing elections next year. Western Australia, which is not part of the National Electricity Market, is looking at its own policy. Queensland, effectively in election mode and with the Adani mine a major issue, is more equivocal, but sees no reason to compromise with the Feds. NSW has a Liberal government and will not want to be seen to be fighting the Feds. But it also has its own target of 20 percent renewables by 2020, and it too is facing an election, though not for 18 months. NSW will have to walk a fine line between maintaining Tory solidarity and not alienating voters. Both the Turnbull led Coalition and federal Labor believe they have the right policies on climate change and energy to appeal to voters. Coalition believes this so strongly that it is actually going out of its way to retreat from the modest climate policies of even the Abbott government (which, remember, supported a renewables target). Labor will push the necessity for action on climate, the Coalition will push energy security. Both will say their policies will achieve those objectives, and that their opponents’ will not. So Australia will have separate federal and state energy policies. On top of that, many local government authorities will have their own policies. There will be no national consensus, no certainty on investment, and no spirit of cooperation. Australia’s climate and energy policy landscape will be much like that of Donald Trump’s America. What a great example to follow. One difference will be that we will at least pay lip service to the Paris Climate agreement, but that means little, since under the Coalition’s policies we will have no chance of meeting our commitments. As in the US, we will have separate local, state and federal policies. The Special Energy COAG in November should be a lulu. Climate change, ‘the great moral issue of our time’, will in Australia continue to be a policy wasteland and political graveyard. Just last week we reported on the United Kingdom’s adoption of carbon pricing. We commented on how that country, under a Conservative government, has somehow managed to avoid the acrimony of the Australian debate. Climate change and energy policy in Australia remains broken. It represents a great failure of political will and the victory of short-termism over the common good. A few years ago I had a market research and analysis company specialising in climate change and energy efficiency. Most of our clients were the energy retailers and distributors. Then, during the years of the Gillard government, the whole debate turned poisonous. Nobody wanted to do anything. They didn’t want to plan, they didn’t want to invest, and they certainly didn’t want to buy market research. Policy uncertainty and wilful disinformation cost me my business. Let us hope it does not cost Australia much more. [post_title] => Renewables, climate and intergovernmental relations – OPINION [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => renewables-climate-intergovernmental-relations-opinion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-20 02:47:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-19 15:47:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28306 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28273 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-10-13 15:41:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-10-13 04:41:24 [post_content] =>

While climate and energy policy in Australia remain mired in acrimonious squabbling, the UK’s Conservative Government has released a bold new plan for a low carbon future. And it includes a carbon price. The new UK Clean Growth Strategy is a comprehensive 163 page document. It was released on 12 October by Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark. He described it as “the government’s strategy on how the whole country can benefit from low carbon economic opportunities through the creation of new technologies and new businesses, which creates jobs and prosperity across the UK, while meeting our ambitious national targets to tackle climate change. “This government has put clean growth at the heart of its industrial strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change. “For the first time in a generation, the British government is leading the way on taking decisions on new nuclear, rolling out smart meters and investing in low carbon innovation. “The world is moving from being powered by polluting fossil fuels to clean energy. It’s as big a change as the move from the age of steam to the age of oil and Britain is showing the way.” Perhaps someone should tell the Australian Government. The report sets out in detail 50 policies and proposals in seven categories:
  • Accelerating clean growth: a number of financial incentives
  • Improving business and industry efficiency: develop a package of measures to support businesses to improve their energy productivity, by at least 20 percent by 2030.
  • Improving the energy efficiency of homes.
  • Accelerating the shift to low carbon transport
  • Delivering clean, smart, flexible power: including the phasing out of ‘unabated’ coal by 2025, and an increase in the use of nuclear energy.
  • Enhancing the benefits and value of the UK’s natural resources
  • Public sector efficiencies and “government leadership in driving clean growth.”
A key aspect of the UK strategy is the introduction of a price on carbon, a strategy adopted by the Australian Government in 2010 by the Gillard Labor Government but subsequently abandoned by Tony Abbot’s Liberals. The UK Government will “target a total carbon price in the power sector which will give businesses greater clarity on the total price they will pay for each tonne of emissions. Further details on carbon prices for the 2020s will be set out in the Autumn 2017 Budget.” The report talks a lot about wind power, and the expansion of Britain’s nuclear energy program. Solar does not get much of a mention, but then the country is not known for its sunny skies and warm temperatures. The full strategy is available here. The contrast with Australia’s lack of strategy could not be sharper. The UK has its share of climate sceptics, but they are not strongly represented in the Government as they are in Australia. The UK also does not have a federal system, and it does not have a powerful Senate. It has more than double Australia’s population (the differential was much greater not so long ago), but its wheels of government turn much more smoothly. More importantly, it has political leaders capable of making decisions. Australia’s turn. [post_title] => UK Government to adopt carbon pricing [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => uk-government-adopt-carbon-pricing [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-10-16 12:59:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-10-16 01:59:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=28273 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28071 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-19 09:28:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-18 23:28:31 [post_content] => New Zealand leads the world in zero emission renewable grid electricity now at 85%. With a nice balance between geothermal, hydroelectric, unusually continuous wind power and some solar, the country has less intermittency of green power than most. Transpower NZ, the government-owned power company, made NZD 208.4m profit in 2016-17 (AUD 190m) and has investigated grid-scale battery systems for near-term investment. Battery storage under investigation Building energy storage systems across New Zealand would represent an economic ‘game-changer’ for the country within the next few years, according to new research by national grid owner-operator Transpower. The company said its research findings show distribution-connected or community-scale batteries are expected to be economic for homes and business from 2020— promising “real potential and benefits from batteries for New Zealand consumers”. Now Transpower is preparing to conduct trials of battery storage systems, while working with industry leaders to push for market and pricing reforms the company said will be needed to “unlock the value of battery systems to maximise their value”. Transpower’s general manager for grid development Stephen Jay said: “We are actively evaluating opportunities for using new technologies throughout our network. We are preparing for what that future looks like and this battery research is the first of a number of reports we will release looking at technologies that could possibly have an impact on our business. “Battery projects at lower voltage distribution substations and at a consumer level are forecast to be economic in the next few years, due to the declining cost of battery systems,” Mr Jay said. “Over time, we believe they will also become economic for the high voltage transmission grid and this will then provide battery resilience across the whole supply chain.” Mr Jay said Transpower is not planning large-scale high voltage trials with batteries “in the near term— but we will seek opportunities to work with and learn from others in joint projects where appropriate.” According to Transpower’s study, the functionality of a battery as both a load and a generator at various times “will need to be examined, and regulatory and technical barriers to entry addressed”. In the long-term, the study said battery storage at any location in the supply chain is expected to delay or replace the need to build additional thermal peaking plant and should over time reduce the cost of electricity to consumers. Container-based battery storage systems in the order of 1-2MW “have the advantage that they can be implemented relatively quickly to target specific grid constraints in a controlled manner”, the report said. They can be ‘right sized’ for the first year of need, “with the possibility of increasing the storage capacity over time if load growth occurs”. This would “optimise initial capital expenditure and leverage the declining cost curve of future expansion”, the report said. In addition, the report said ramping up battery storage projects would support national plans to boost the take-up of electric vehicles. According to Transpower, there are currently around 3,000 electric vehicles in the country, but government policy is targeting 64,000 vehicles by 2021-22. “In future, we expect that electric vehicle batteries could have the capability to be part of a battery network, providing services when the vehicle is plugged in to charge overnight,” Transpower said. With IDTechEx. You can download the Transpower report here. [post_title] => NZ hits 85% renewables, profitably [post_excerpt] => NZ Government makes $190m from electricity, focuses on renewables and grid battery storage. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => nz-hits-85-renewable-electricity-profitably [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-19 09:48:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-18 23:48:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=28071 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28003 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-09-11 14:47:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-09-11 04:47:14 [post_content] =>   Australia should start work immediately on a new way to ensure reliable electricity supplies, according to a new Grattan Institute report. Next Generation: the long-term future of the National Electricity Market calls for preparatory work on a ‘capacity mechanism’ to encourage investment in new electricity generation and reduce the threat of shortages and blackouts. The report warns, however, that the costs of such peace of mind would ultimately fall on consumers through higher electricity prices. So a capacity mechanism should be introduced only if all other market reforms have been exhausted and supply is still under threat. Through a capacity mechanism, generators would be paid not only for the electricity they produce to meet current demand, but for committing to provide power for years into the future. The market operator or retailers could contract for sufficient electricity to meet future demand, to ensure new generation and storage is built in time. “Australians have endured a decade of toxic political debates about climate change policy, South Australians suffered a state-wide blackout last year, consumers across the country are screaming about skyrocketing electricity bills, and energy companies are shutting down big coal-fired power stations,” said Grattan Institute Energy program director Tony Wood. “It is understandable that governments feel the need to ‘do something’. But the danger is they will rush in and make things worse. What Australia needs now is perspective, not panic.” The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) last week called for a ‘longer-term approach’ to ensure electricity supplies. The Grattan report identifies a capacity obligation on retailers as the most effective and lowest-cost approach. The report calls for a three-step policy. First, the Federal Government should implement all recommendations of the June 2017 Finkel Review, including a Clean Energy Target or a similar mechanism to price greenhouse gas emissions. Second, alongside the Australian Energy Market Commission’s work on the market’s reliability framework, AEMO’s annual assessment of future supply and demand should be extended to include a more comprehensive assessment of the future adequacy of generation supply. And third, if the newly created Energy Security Board concludes that projected shortfalls are unlikely to be met under the current market design, AEMO should introduce a capacity mechanism. “This pragmatic, planned approach offers the best prospect of affordable, reliable, secure and sustainable power for Australians,” Mr Wood said. [post_title] => Grattan report calls for a capacity mechanism in electricity [post_excerpt] => How to make sure Australia has enough electricity in the future: Grattan Institute report. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => grattan-report-calls-capacity-mechanism-electricity [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-09-11 14:47:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-09-11 04:47:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://governmentnews.com.au/?p=28003 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27569 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-10 13:53:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-10 03:53:29 [post_content] => The Queensland Government is throwing its support behind a new $60 million Atherton Tableland biorefinery that it says could generate 130 regional jobs and encourage diverse cropping in the region, however, politicians across the nation could well suffer from some voter backlash for their backing of the Adani mine in Queensland. The good: sugar Queensland Minister for State Development Dr Anthony Lynham said the MSF Sugar biorefinery was part of a multi-million dollar investment in 21st century bio-futures plants that could generate more than 130 jobs in regional Queensland. “The proposed MSF Sugar biorefinery is expected to generate 80 construction and farming jobs and an additional 50 operational jobs, delivering a further boost to the region’s economy,” Dr Lynham said. “Powered by an onsite bagasse-fuelled 24 MW Green Power station, the combined biorefinery complex is expected to produce 110,000 tonnes of raw sugar, 200,000 MW of green electricity for the grid and 55 million litres of ethanol biofuel annually.” The company will trial large-scale blue agave cropping as an alternative feedstock to sugarcane in the off-growing season, which could potentially allow the biorefinery to operate 12 months of the year. Blue agave is said to grow well in dryland conditions with minimum irrigation required. Dr Lynham said the government was providing funding that would primarily be used by the company to progress feasibility studies, to accelerate construction commencement of the proposed biorefinery. Dr Lynham said Atherton’s MSF Sugar biorefinery was another step towards achieving the state’s plan for a $1 billion sustainable, export-oriented biotechnology and bioproducts sector. Acceleration of the Atherton project came out of the government’s $4 million Biofutures Acceleration Program that offers support to companies to build commercial-scale biorefineries in regional Queensland to process materials such as agricultural and industrial waste. “More than 120 parties indicated interest in biorefining in Queensland through the program and 26 submitted detailed expressions of interest,” he said. Other biorefinery projects coming to regional Queensland from the Biofutures Acceleration Program are:
  • A biorefinery in another Queensland sugarcane region by US biotechnology company Amyris that would create 70 operational jobs. The company aims to produce 23,000 tonnes a year of a sugar cane-based ingredient called farnesene used in products including cosmetic emollients, fragrances, fuels, solvents, lubricants and nutraceuticals.
  • A planned $26 million expansion of United Ethanol’s Dalby Biorefinery facility by 24ML to 100ML, creating 50 jobs. The company also plans to conduct detailed scientific studies to improve the marketability of its high-value and high-protein animal feed product called ‘dry distillers grain’ later this year.
The bad: subsidising coal A new study has reinforced how cabinet ministers’ electorates strongly oppose coal subsidies. New polling of seven electorates belonging to senior federal cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister, reveals strong opposition to a federal subsidised loan for Adani’s coal project, and support for instituting a moratorium on new coal mines. The Australia Institute commissioned ReachTEL to conduct surveys of 4,712 Australian residents across the electorates of Wentworth (Turnbull), Cook (Morrison), Curtin (Bishop), Dickson (Dutton), Flinders (Hunt), Kooyong (Frydenberg) and Sturt (Pyne) on the 8th of June 2017. Respondents were asked if they supported or opposed the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) giving Adani a one billion dollar subsidised loan for its coal rail line. 17-28% supported the idea while 51-70% opposed it. “Despite a push by some conservatives for coal subsidy polices, these results - in key blue-ribbon Liberal seats - show strong opposition to that very idea,” executive director of The Australia Institute Ben Oquist said. “It makes sense that the Liberal Party base would be so opposed to the idea of spending taxpayers’ money on subsidies for an industry as well established as coal mining. “What makes less sense is the idea that ministers who represent those seats, who believe in free markets and small government principles, would ignore both the politics and economics when it comes to Adani. “When asked more broadly about the idea of taxpayer subsidies for Adani, the opposition was even higher.”
  Cook Curtin Dickson Flinders Kooyong Sturt Wentworth
Support 10.7% 13.3% 19.7% 15.4% 15.2% 17.0% 14.6%
Oppose 70.8% 61.0% 62.2% 67.9% 66.4% 53.3% 70.1%
Don’t know/Not sure 18.5% 25.8% 18.1% 16.7% 18.4% 29.7% 15.4%
  In every electorate, more people supported a moratorium on new coal mines than opposed the proposal. 51% of the Prime Minister’s constituents support the idea with 31% opposed. “These results show that Malcolm Turnbull should be confident in staring down the pro-coal faction in his party room,” Mr Oquist said.
  Cook Curtin Dickson Flinders Kooyong Sturt Wentworth
Liberal/LNP 63% 65% 56% 54% 56% 56% 61%
Labor 37% 35% 44% 46% 44% 44% 39%
  [post_title] => Queensland to boost biofuels, Adani support questioned [post_excerpt] => $60M FNQ biorefinery to create 130 jobs, but support for Adani hits new lows. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => queensland-boost-biofuels-adani-support-questioned [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-10 15:28:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-10 05:28:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27569 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27284 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-02 11:24:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-02 01:24:51 [post_content] =>   NSW councils tentative on housing affordability package Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has welcomed NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s ‘promising ideas’ in the state’s new housing affordability package but said the reforms were ‘somewhat light on detail’. The reforms include stamp duty concessions for first home buyers, changes to the first home buyer’s grant, higher taxes on foreign investors and accelerating council-led rezonings and development application approvals. "LGNSW congratulates the government on its efforts to do what it can to support housing affordability, and there's nothing we'd like more to do than to come out and praise their efforts,” LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said. "Unfortunately until there is more detailed information available it really seems to be a case of the devil will lie in the detail." Mr Rhoades said the sector welcomed many components of the package, including the ‘very positive’ move to lift the cap on development contributions to ensure new homes had the necessary infrastructure to support them, like footpaths, roads and parks. He also cautiously welcomed the announcement of funding of up to $2.5 million for ‘growth priority councils’ to help councils update their Local Environment Plans quicker. "It's great news that these ten to 15 councils will be supported to plan for future growth, but we are a little concerned at the suggestion that councils should accelerate the rezoning of land," Mr Rhoades said.  "Rezoning needs good strategic planning at a local level, and it's important that we don't give this up in the pursuit of speed at all costs.” He said it was unclear whether the government’s new guidelines around protecting the local character of communities would have much force. However, Mr Rhoades said councils were pleased the government had not moved straight to mandatory independent planning panels for deciding larger development applications. "These panels work very effectively for some councils, but other councils don't see the need for them - it really needs to be a matter of local choice.”   Digital marketplace for smart cities Local councils can now use the Digital Transformation Agency’s (DTA) Digital Marketplace platform to collaborate on smart city projects, including smart lighting, rubbish collection and infrastructure modelling. The new functionality, which is expected to become permanent, was introduced to help councils find suppliers for the innovative products and services they need to deliver smart city ideas. “There is a great appetite for innovation within local councils, who are at the forefront of smart city initiatives,” Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor said. “Already 25 per cent of registered buyers on the Digital Marketplace are local government and there are more than 400 sellers who can provide the digital expertise they need to transform their communities.” There are already some exciting projects up on the Digital Marketplace, such as Sunshine Coast’s underground waste collection project and Ipswich Council’s 5D data modelling, which brings together streams of data to build a five-dimensional view of the city’s infrastructure. The Marketplace is supporting the federal government’s Smart Cities Plan and complements the $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. Applications for the first round of the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program close on 30 June 2017.  Eight Sydney councils will offer residents free energy advice Eight Sydney councils will offer free energy advice to residents through the Our Energy Future partnership, going live on World Environment Day, Monday 5 June. Eight councils are working with Our Energy Future: Inner West, Bayside, City of Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown City, Georges River, City of Parramatta, Randwick City, and City of Sydney. Our Energy Future (formerly Our Solar Future) will involve an energy advice website, phone line and free, no-obligation quotes on solar and assessment services. Users can find information such as trusted solar and storage battery retailers and installers and tips on improving the energy efficiency of their homes and workplaces. For a discounted rate, Our Energy Future experts can also conduct comprehensive energy assessments to offer more tailored advice.   Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) President Councillor Sally Betts said she was excited about the launch. “We’re delighted that Our Energy Future and SSROC have been able to come together with eight councils to deliver financial savings to our local residents,” she said. Our Energy Future is coordinated by Positive Charge, a not-for-profit social enterprise. “Our organisation has its foundations in working with local government to reduce emissions and increase the use of renewable and energy efficiency technologies,” said Manager Positive Charge Kate Nicolazzo. “We are thrilled to be partnering with SSROC to bring this award-winning service to Sydney-region residents,” she said. SSROC General Manager Namoi Dougall said, “Our Energy Future is a key element of SSROC’s Renewable Energy Master Plan, and will be run by Positive Charge for a 15-month pilot.” [post_title] => Around the councils: Digital Marketplace open for smart cities; Response to NSW housing reforms [post_excerpt] => And eight Sydney council's energy efficiency push. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => around-councils-digital-marketplace-open-smart-cities-response-nsw-housing-reforms [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-02 11:32:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-02 01:32:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27284 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26551 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-03-15 15:57:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-15 04:57:18 [post_content] =>     By Mace Hartley, executive director, Australasian Fleet Management Association (AFMA) Australia takes its time adapting to change. Electric vehicle benefits remain unrealised, so what more can we do? Impressively, 2016 was a record year for new vehicle sales driven largely by business and rental markets with private sales delivering the worst result since 2013. For the first time since 2013 non-private sales exceeded half of total new vehicle sales (excluding heavy vehicles). The Paris Agreement in November 2015 saw over 190 countries - including Australia, US, India and China - sign an agreement to limit global warming to well below 2.0 degrees Celsius, aiming for 1.5 degrees. The agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and was ratified by Australia on 9 November 2016. Australia set ambitious targets to reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which builds on the 2020 target of reducing emissions by five per cent below 2000 levels. Further, Australia committed to contributing towards the global goal of reaching net zero emissions by the second half of this century. Transport represents 18 per cent of Australia’s total emissions. Within this, road transport accounts for 85 per cent with the largest impact being cars and light commercial vehicles at 72 per cent. Given vehicles represent a huge portion of Australia’s emissions you would think sales of alternative fueled vehicles would increase. Whilst diesel has made inroads, electric vehicles (EVs) had their worst result since 2013 with step declines from 2014 and 2015, and LPG-only vehicles continue to decline as they are no longer available in Australia. (Table 1) So, what’s stopping the uptake of EVs? There are many factors, with high vehicle price, lack of suitable vehicles and charging infrastructure topping the list. Wealthy private buyers with higher disposable cash are purchasing Teslas and BMW i3s with few other options available, whilst non-private fleets struggle to find a vehicle fit-for-purpose at reasonable pricing with Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMEV no longer available. What’s going to change? The government has recently released two draft Regulation Impact Statements for discussion and feedback. They’re called “Improving the Efficiency of New Light Vehicles” which considers the introduction of mandatory fuel efficiency standards which 80 per cent of the global light vehicle market already has in place in the US, EU, Canada, China, South Korea and India (amongst others), and “Vehicle Emissions Standards for Cleaner Air”, which considers the introduction of more stringent noxious emissions standards for light and heavy road vehicles which again already exists in most developed countries. How will “improving the efficiency of new light vehicles” drive an increase in EV sales? The term efficiency in this case relates to the grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometer a vehicle produces. In 2015 the average efficiency of new light vehicles sold in the EU was 120g/km whilst Australia was 184g/km. There is a range of ways to introduce targets; an example from overseas, manufacturers must meet average efficiency targets across their entire vehicle portfolio. This means they can still offer higher emission vehicles but need to sell more low emissions vehicles such as EVs to reduce their overall emissions. In December, the government released its emissions projections for 2016 which includes a range of assumptions including that EVs will represent 0.5 per cent of new vehicle sales in 2020 and 15 per cent in 2030. For 2020 that’s an increase of 5,672 vehicles or 2,589 per cent over the 219 vehicles sold in 2016 and by 2030, an increase of over 176,000 vehicles or 80,594 per cent. There’s clearly much to be done. Mandatory emission targets may increase the number of EVs on offer but simply increasing availability won’t necessarily increase demand. Both state and federal governments will need to consider incentives to drive private and non-private demand. State government levers could include reductions in stamp duty, lower registration costs, dedicated road lanes and preference parking. The federal government already provides some incentive as EVs don’t pay fuel excise and other options could include removing FBT or lowering the luxury car tax for EVs. Whilst each of these measures will help, more is needed to reduce the purchase price of EVs in the short term before they reach price parity as the technology and demand matures. It’s true the cost of EVs is reducing, driven primarily by the falling cost of battery packs, which can account for about a third of the cost of the entire vehicle. In 2015, battery prices fell by 35 per cent and continuing reductions in battery prices are projected to bring the total cost of ownership of EVs below that for conventional-fuel vehicles by 2025, eight years from now! There is no doubt alternative fuel vehicles are important to Australia’s emissions targets but it’s unclear what’s going to jump start an increase in sales. There are many stakeholders working to support the uptake of low emissions vehicles, including the EV Council which has been established by industry to advise, advocate for and co-ordinate activities to support the uptake of electric vehicles, and the government continues to work through their options with the Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions. Stay tuned!   Table 1: New Vehicle Sales (excl Heavy Vehicles)
  2013 2014 2015 2016
All Categories Total 1,104,531 1,081,899 1,123,224 1,145,024
Diesel 340,552 331,270 334,052 363,007
Electric 292 1,135 1,108 219
Hybrid 11,949 11,950 12,138 12,625
LPG 4,704 2,932 2,061 612
Petrol 747,034 734,612 773,865 768,561
         
All Categories Total 100% 100% 100% 100%
Diesel 30.83% 30.62% 29.74% 31.70%
Electric 0.03% 0.10% 0.10% 0.02%
Hybrid 1.08% 1.10% 1.08% 1.10%
LPG 0.43% 0.27% 0.18% 0.05%
Petrol 67.63% 67.90% 68.90% 67.12%
Table Note: This tables excludes Tesla vehicle sales as they choose not to contribute their data to VFACTS.   Stay ahead of the curve, don’t miss the 2017 Australasian Fleet Conference & Exhibition, May 11-12. Book Tickets: http://afma.net.au/conference2017/ Want the latest public sector news delivered straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up the Government News newsletter. [post_title] => Electric vehicles – How can we do more? [post_excerpt] => Jump starting an increase in sales. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => electric-vehicles-can [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-03-17 10:08:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-03-16 23:08:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26551 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 4 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26217 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-02-10 10:36:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-02-09 23:36:46 [post_content] =>   NSW public buildings could double as chill out areas for the elderly and other people at risk trying to escape this weekend’s predicted heatwave, says the Opposition. As the state contemplates sweating through temperatures of up to 45 degrees in inland areas, Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called upon NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to trial designating public buildings such as council chambers, libraries and art galleries as 'respite cooling centres' for the elderly and families. It has been done before. Mildura in Victoria has an emergency community cooling centre where the elderly can seek relief from the heat and the Canadian city of Toronto has opened cooling centers during heatwaves. Some Eastern European cities have heating centres during cold snaps. Mr Secord said public buildings with air-conditioning could stay open longer to provide shelter for people looking to avoid the extreme temperatures. “State governments need to have contingency plans for extraordinary events and extreme hot weather is one such event,” said Mr Secord. “We want to minimise the effect of heat stress on the most vulnerable in our society; this is about protecting them. Unfortunately, these soaring temperatures are set to continue – and they hit the young and the elderly the hardest.” He said it was easier for younger people and families to avoid the heat because they could go to shopping malls, the cinema, parks or beaches but the elderly and less mobile found this more difficult. NSW Health says those most at risk from the high temperatures are the elderly, pregnant women, babies and other children, people with chronic conditions and those whose immune systems are compromised. Meanwhile, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has predicted that demand for electricity in NSW will be the highest ever, peaking between 4.30pm and 6.30pm on Saturday, and expected to reach around 14,700 megawatts. NSW residents are being urged to reduce their energy use, where they can. Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin said people should turn up their air con to 26 degrees, adjust fridge temperatures and switch off appliances and lights, where possible. Mr Harwin said that despite the heat the electricity networks were comfortable there would be no break in supply. “We are working with AEMO, TransGrid and generators to ensure that all generation capacity is operating including coal, hydro, gas, wind and solar,” Mr Harwin said. “The government is taking additional steps to reduce peak demand, including in government operations. If required the networks will consider load shedding to manage peak demand.” Load shedding is where AEMO orders power companies to begin switching off customers’ power supply to protect the power system from black outs. “I am being kept up to date on the situation and if further action is to be taken we will make sure that the energy companies are informing their customers, and we will update the community as we know more,” he said. In other news, the Senate Select Committee into the Resilience of Electricity Infrastructure in a Warming World continues with a public hearing in Canberra today (Friday). The Committee will explore how Australia’s electricity networks will cope with increased power demands from severe weather events in the future, including exploring emerging technologies. The committee is due to report to the Senate on or before 24 March 2017.   [post_title] => Council chambers could be used as respite cooling centres during NSW heatwave [post_excerpt] => No blackouts, says government. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => council-chambers-used-respite-cooling-centres-heatwave [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-02-15 16:10:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-02-15 05:10:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26217 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 28589 [post_author] => 673 [post_date] => 2017-11-21 05:49:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-11-20 18:49:10 [post_content] =>

The Council of Australian Government Energy Council meets in Hobart this Friday (24 November) to try to bring some order to Australia’s fractious energy policy. It will be the first meeting held since the announcement of the Federal Government’s National Electricity Guarantee (NEG). The Government is promoting the NEG as an alternative to the Chief Scientist’s recommended Clean Energy Target. It includes a scrapping of the existing Renewable Energy Target after 2020. Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg says the NEG will ensure 28 percent renewable energy by 2030, and has rubbished the ALP’s policy of 50 percent renewables by that date, calling it irresponsible. Unfortunately for the Government and Mr Frydenberg, two major independent reports, one of them commissioned by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, have supported Labor’s target. The most important of these reports is from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), about as august a body as we have in this country (it brings together the Australian Academy of the Humanities, the Australian Academy of Science, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering). The ACOLA report was done in partnership with the Chief Scientist. It represents the best thinking on the matter, by the most eminent scientists. “At an aggregated national level, Australia can reach penetrations of 50 percent renewable energy without a significant requirement for storage to support energy reliability,” says the report. “Installing the levels of storage power capacity (GW) required for the purpose of security creates the opportunity to expand energy stored (GWh) capacity for reliability at a lower marginal cost than would otherwise be the case.” The report says Australia could be a world leader in renewables, but it was being held back by poor planning. It also says that the Government has a role to play in educating the public about the technology. This is so at odds with what is actually happening that it can only be seen as a rebuke to current Government policy. It is already providing ammunition to the Federal Opposition and the Labor states ahead of Friday’s COAG meeting. The ACOLA report can be found here. Another report, from the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures and commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, says the much the same thing. The report focuses on the ageing Liddell coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley, slated for closure by owner AGL and something of a cause celebre by adherents of coal, who want its life extended. It is called ‘Beyond Coal: Alternatives to Extending the Life of Liddell Power Station’ and contains more bad news for the Government: “Replacing the Liddell coal power station with clean energy and other smart solutions would slash climate pollution and be more than $1.3 billion cheaper than the Turnbull Government’s proposal to keep the ageing plant open past its use by date,” says the report. ACF Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy, said the results showed Australia’s elected representatives were holding the country back by stalling a comprehensive plan for the swift transition to clean energy. “Australia desperately needs a comprehensive climate change policy that will facilitate the rapid transition to a clean energy future,” Ms O’Shanassy said. “Any climate change and energy policy, be it the National Energy Guarantee or another proposal, must be designed to encourage as much clean energy and smart technology as possible, and not prop-up polluting coal plants that are damaging our planet.” The ACF report can be found here. The Government consistently accuses the opponents of its energy policy as being driven by ideology. But on the weight of evidence, it would seem that the opposite is the case. COAG meetings are intended to bring about a consensus between Australia’s top two tiers of government. A consensus on energy policy appears unlikely, which will add to the very uncertainty that these two reports and many observers say is one of the major causes of the lack of investment and planning which is driving energy prices up in Australia. The COAG Energy Council issues Communiques after its meetings, which have become much more frequent in recent times. The one from next Friday’s meeting should make interesting reading. 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Clean energy

stop air pln

Battle lines drawn for energy COAG

The Council of Australian Government Energy Council meets in Hobart this Friday (24 November) to try to bring some order to Australia’s fractious energy policy. It will be the first meeting held since the announcement of the Federal Government’s National Electricity Guarantee (NEG). The Government is promoting the NEG as an alternative to the Chief […]

Ross Garnaut

WA urged to go it alone on renewables

Influential energy and climate economist Professor Ross Garnaut says Western Australia should adopt a state based emissions intensity scheme. He is recommending and Emissions Intensity Scheme (EIS) for the state. Professor Garnaut said WA could lead the world as a clean energy superpower. He believes its vast resources of renewable energy, and its isolation from […]

carbon price

Even the Productivity Commission wants a carbon price – OPINION

They didn’t make a big deal of it, but the Productivity Commission’s new five-year overview report, commissioned by the Federal Government, has recommended the introduction of a carbon price. The productivity commission is of course an advisory body, and the Government has explicitly ruled out a price on carbon or anything that can even remotely […]

PC Shift review

Productivity Commission recipe for effective government

The Productivity Commission has released its first ever five-year productivity review, called ‘Shifting the Dial’. It was released in conjunction with the Commission’s annual report. It is “a look out across the landscape of factors and influences that may affect Australia’s economic performance over the medium term, in order to offer advice on where our […]

wind farm

Renewable energy targets – a state-by state comparison

Australia is blessed – and cursed – with a federal system of government. It allows greater diversity, and also causes problems when it comes to the coordination of service delivery. The biggest disparity is have always been in education and health. In the last few years energy and climate change policy have also become contentious. […]

State Solar

Renewables, climate and intergovernmental relations – OPINION

The Federal Government’s refusal to adopt the Chief Scientist’s recommendation for a Clean Energy Target has been roundly criticised by its political opponents. As you would expect. But what does it mean for the relationships between Australia’s different levels of government? The Government’s new policy sees the end of any subsidy for renewable energy after […]

UK green

UK Government to adopt carbon pricing

While climate and energy policy in Australia remain mired in acrimonious squabbling, the UK’s Conservative Government has released a bold new plan for a low carbon future. And it includes a carbon price. The new UK Clean Growth Strategy is a comprehensive 163 page document. It was released on 12 October by Business and Energy […]