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kicking solar yet again « Previous | |Next »
July 26, 2010

Australia may soon follow in the footsteps of other international markets with a 'cash for clunkers' program dubbed Cleaner Car Rebate, offering a $2000 boost to new car buyers trading in their old car.The ultimate aim is getting around 200,000 old vehicles off the nation's roads, and the program will offer a $2000 rebate on cars built before 1995. The rebate is part of a plan to cut vehicle emissions by one million tonnes, with mandatory emissions regulations to be introduced for new cars from 2015.

This is an excellent idea, as Australians own a lot of old motor cars, and those old cars guzzle a lot of petrol and they emit a lot of pollution. So how is this rebate to be paid for, given Labor's lean budget commitment? It is an expensive way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and it could be a subsidy for new 4 wheel drives.

'Cash for clunkers' will be funded by redirecting funds from the programs set up to increase the use of solar power and renewable energy, of course. Why isn't the money coming out of the subsidies to the polluting industries instead? These subsidies keep the cost of fossil fuel energy artificially low and make it harder for renewable energy to compete. They distort energy markets, encourage greater use of fossil fuels, create higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions and improve the profitability of energy companies that produce or use fossil fuels.

Electricity generation is the largest source of Australia’s internal greenhouse gas emissions, because of the high percentage of coal in the energy mix. It is also the easiest to transform to renewable energy.

Labor's climate change policy is a mess: it is ineffective and poorly targeted and it has little connection to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is backing right away from putting a price on carbon and it is designed to strangle the emergence of a solar energy industry whilst pretending that it is supporting an infant industry.

Australian solar manufacturing has little chance of being at the forefront of the clean energy industry. It fears the impact on economic growth from a shift to a low carbon economy. Economic growth is the top priority of the state and it overrides other policy objectives, despite economic growth not delivering on its promise of well being.

Despite Australia being a sun-drenched country, other governments are making a much bigger effort to harness that solar power. Instead of focusing on the green jobs in the local solar industry, the focus is on the lost jobs in the fossil fuel industry. What has been decided by default is that Australia is not going to have an Australian manufacturing capability, and that instead of being net exporters of leading-edge renewable technology it is the importers of consumer goods in the clean energy area.

Although an ecologically sustainable and healthy energy system, based on efficient energy use and renewable energy sources, is now technologically and economically feasible for Australia, there is a lack of political will. Government energy policy since the Howard government aims to retard the development of energy from renewable electricity source, until such time as coal-fired power stations with CO2 capture and sequestration (and nuclear power stations for the Coalition) are available.

The argument is that given Australia's high level of fossil fuel reserves , it must remain substantially reliant on fossil fuels for energy needs and energy security. The argument is flawed. Australia also posses a high level of renewable resources in wind ans solar, but the Government does not argue that should therefore be reliant on these resources.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:07 AM | | Comments (8)


It struck me as about as tokenistic a measure as Howard subsidising LPG conversions. Then I saw where the money was coming from and realised it's just plain bad.

I'm struggling to think of a single good thing Labor has done since Gillard took over, suggesting that the purported reasons for the coup were a crock.

One main argument deployed by the coal and nuclear power industries is that renewable energy cannot provide base- load power to substitute for coal-fired electricity. Government Ministers and most journalists in the establishment media propagate this conventional ‘wisdom’, even though it is flawed.

The political implications are that, if the fallacy becomes widely believed to be true, renewable energy would always have to remain a niche market, rather than achieve its true potential of becoming a set of mainstream energy supply technologies.

The problem with this argument is that the national electricity grid is already designed to handle variability in both demand and supply. To do this, they have different types of power station (base-load, intermediate-load and peak-load) and reserve power stations.

Renewable electricity sources (e.g. bioenergy, solar thermal electricity and geothermal) have identical variability to coal-fired power stations and they can be integrated without any additional back-up.

i agree with Ken---- Labor's "cash for clunkers" is symbolic politics. It is the typical style of the NSW Right --eg., witness their public transport plans for Sydney, which are mostly hot air.

I was in Whyalla last week and drove past the solar power station being erected there.

Its on the site of the old dairy managed rellies of mine.

It will employ 250 people for 3 years.
It will provide power for 1000 homes.
It is just one of many eminently suitable locations for such sustainable power generation in SA and Australia.
I can think of at least a dozen places in SA alone that could host such facilities.
Lots of sunshine all year, available space, demand for the power when the supply is high.
Employment a bonus.

Why not compel [yikes!!!... did I actually use the word 'compel'?] coal power station companies to provide the funds for the establishment and maitenance of a 100 such sites around Oz and include all costs in their operating costs whilst simultaneously pricing the electricity produced by such solar stations at average, or less, costs?

Yeah, they'll whinge and squeal like stuck pigs.

is Wizard Power's big dish system (ie., the Whyalla Solar Oasis) different to the (solar?) power plant that will provide the electricity to run BHP's desalinisation plant for Olympic Dam? Is the Whyalla Solar Oasis just a trial power plant?

If it is to provide power to 1000 homes, then that means it can provide base load power. Is there any emergence of other industries co-locating around the green energy source that will eventually power parts of Whyalla?

All the mining camps could use this kind of solar power surely.

I am not poo-pooing the idea of getting old cars off the road and having better cars on it but....
While looking at the initial sales pith of Gillard which showed an old car with a few down on their luckers it struck me as OK good idea but how many people that drive heaps of shit can get a loan and meet the payments of the car that they will need to trade the heap in on to qualify. $25,000??? maybe.

I can't answer your questions Gary.
All my sources, the ones that have inside info, think the desal plant is a wonderful idea and we don't talk about it anymore by agreement.
Its strange.

I believe they are 2 separate entities cos the desal will be, I believe, partly wind powered and the site is tens of kms out of Whyalla whereas this power station is right on the edge of the town, a Saturday arvo's bike ride out to the site for this bloke when he was a young un.
There is always talk about industries locating in or out of Whyalla for many reasons mostly just fantasy and hype either way.


I went to the Home Show yesterday. Solar power was clearly the business with the most stall holders. They had their own section and were then scattered through out with the other stalls. Unfortunately the people were making wild and untruthful estimations of what amount of power was going to be created from the units and even wilder figures of what amount of money is going to be generated by selling power back to the grid.
I can see that the industry will have problems with honesty.