Australian Government's $1 Billion Renewable Pledge

The Federal Government has made a $1 billion pledge to improve Australia’s renewable energy sector, adding the committment is part of its move to give Australian households a “fair deal on energy.”

A total of $1 billion has been given to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation - CEFC - for investment into new technologies that will maintain the reliability o Australia’s electricity grid while moving to cleaner sources of energy.

The CEFC was established in 2012 under the Labor government, and has a mandate to return a profit each year. According to the ABC, “it leveraged $3 worth of private investment for each taxpayer-dollar lent.” It is reported that no specific investment plans have been outlined, however, experts are suggesting that battery, solar and wind projects are set to underpin the CEFC’s investment plans.

“If that ratio continued, the new money could result in a total of about $4 billion being invested into grid-reliability projects.”

Angus Taylor, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction said that “it’s no secret that the National Electricity Market is under pressure… this fund is designed to tackle that.”

Policy director at the Australian National University Centre for Climate and Energy, Frank Jotzo says the investment is “thoroughly positive”, but fails to match the size and scope of projects needed in Australia, all the while supporting coal-fired plants for electricity production in spite of cleaner, more cost-effective solutions coming to market.

“We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric about the Federal Government wanting to support the continued operation of coal-fired power plants,” he said. “This demonstrates it is making a very public acknowledgment of where the future lies for the electricity system.”

However, the CEFC only has the ability to invest in projects that produce less than half the emissions of the grid average, which, according to the ABC rules out coal.

Labor leader, Anthony Albanese said that the government had “finally come around to the realisation” that investment into renewable energy can not only break-even, it can indeed return a profit.

“There needs to be a greater investment than what they have promised and you can’t really reduce energy prices unless you have an energy policy that is comprehensive,” he added.

While there are no firm details as to how the CEFC will invest the $1 billion, experts are outlining that “grid stabilising technologies” and infrastructure will be prioritised, as well as projects like hydroelectric power, wind farm and solar cells with high-capacity batteries like we’ve seen installed in South Australia’s Hornsdale battery which was installed by Tesla. This system stabilises frequencies and voltage in the system, and helps energy suppliers maintain stability in high-use periods.

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