The Government's War On Wind And Solar Hurts Homes And Businesses

Opinion: Over the weekend, we learned that an Abbott government directive has banned any more investment in wind farms by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a government body that encourages investment in the renewable energy sector. Recently revealed cuts to finance for small- and medium-scale solar power, too, make it harder for individuals and households to effectively lower their reliance on fossil fuels.

Wind farm image via Shutterstock

It's being called "a war on wind power", although it extends further and more damagingly into solar. Whatever it is, it's clear that the government's offensive, which actually involves eventually abolishing the CEFC and has already included cutting the Renewable Energy Target, is making it harder for Australians to make their own moves towards green power and subsidise smaller solar installations.

On the Abbott government's attitude to wind — the problem is, we aren't given any rational, believable, quantifiable reason from the figureheads of the government for this policy shift other than that wind is not good to look at. The argument we get from Tony Abbott and his government's frontbench is that power-generating wind turbines are just unlikeable in an aesthetic sense: they're "ugly" (Abbott), "noisy" (Abbott), "utterly offensive" (Hockey), "not particularly nice to look at" (Cormann) and "visually awful" (Abbott again). If you read around, the argument is that wind power isn't an emerging technology any more. By that token, shouldn't the government drop its $4 billion in subsidies for the country's coal and coal-powered energy industry?

It extends further than wind, though, into the other pillar of renewable energy in Australia — solar power. Any solar power installation generating less than 100kW? No thanks, says the government. Here's the issue, though: the beauty of solar is that it's incredibly scalable — as well as having swathes of land to devote to large-scale solar installations, Australia has millions of household rooftops that are perfectly pointed towards that big bright thing in the sky. Why not use them, and why not spend a bit of taxpayers' money to encourage that?

Having driven and charged a Tesla Model S electric car for a week, I found myself wishing I had some method of charging its batteries without relying on grid power, and the majority coal- and gas-fired power plants that supply energy to my Sydney home. I could sign my household up to an accredited GreenPower supplier and "get" its energy from renewable sources, but that's funnelling money towards those same companies who continue to drive investment in coal. To be honest, far more appealing is the idea of having my own solar panels and my own small-scale renewable energy source.

Tesla's Powerwall, too, is another innovative concept that promises to change the way that we consume and demand power. Having a battery in your home for your lights and appliances to run off smooths out demand to a constant level throughout peak and offpeak periods, and combined with solar has the potential to reduce a household's demand on grid power substantially. Less money to be spent on poles and wires and long-distance energy transmission from existing dirty energy sources. Wouldn't it be great to hear about a subsidy for homes and businesses to install battery energy storage and reduce the strain on power generation during peak usage?

A fortnight ago, the CEFC announced it would use $100 million in financing for Origin Energy to install solar panels on the rooftops of businesses and households, using their premises, but retaining ownership of the utilities — then selling the power generated on to those houses and businesses that signed up to the program. Sure, this investment does drive the increased uptake of solar power, but it keeps the infrastructure in the hands of big businesses — and leaves the opportunity open for those businesses to raise prices on consumers in the future.

The government expects large-scale solar to play a big part in Australia's renewable energy sector over the next five years. But it doesn't want you producing your own power, and it just doesn't like the look of wind farms. And all the while, coal and gas plants around the country continue to burn. [SMH / The Guardian / The Australian]

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    The ban on wind is to make sure no one is making money of the policies that Abbott is blowing out his arse.

      I have a vivid image of Bob Brown standing outside his county shack in Tasmania (yes, he has two homes, so how green is that?). There was smoke billing from a chimney and not a solar panel anywhere.

    Meanwhile in France...
    "France Declares All New Rooftops Must Be Topped With Plants Or Solar Panels"

    Last edited 13/07/15 10:54 am

      And just this weekend on Giz...
      Denmark's Wind Energy Output Just Exceeded National Demand

      Last edited 13/07/15 11:39 am

        Denmark has the worlds most expensive electricity

          Only if you forget diesel powered countries... it drops to 3rd when you factor purchasing power (Spain/Germany is higher).

          Worth adding we're like 6th (aka power isn't cheap in Australia)

          Stop telling the truth. No-one here wants to hear it.

          Because wind and solar cost more to implement than just burning the coal and oil we dig out of the ground. Half the reason why everyone isn't doing it.

            Hardly a sound reason to not do it, though.
            The cost to deploy any wide scale infrastructure is always going to cost more than an established infrastructure, no matter what industry we look at.
            It's why you look at projected costs over several decades - the cost of installation will go down and the price of coal now will not be the same in 20 years time, when a lot more effort is required to get it.

        Oh dear, how naive. The cost of wind-generated electricity far exceeds that generated by normal means and will always (repeat always) require huge subsidies and a 'normal' back-up system, just for those rare (sic) occasions when the wind doesn't blow.

          How incredibly patronising and wrong. A study has already shown that we could move to 100% renewable within 10 years. . The wind is always blowing somewhere.

          Besides which, the CEFC was providing FINANCE to wind projects, at interest, and at a profit to the government. That's a completely different thing to subsidies.

          Last edited 14/07/15 12:28 pm

          The cost of coal power is only cheaper if you ignore the cost of building the coal plant, while including the cost of building the wind turbines. If you look at the full cost for both, wind is already cheaper. If you just look at running costs, wind is obviously cheaper.

          And then there's the external costs of coal. This study shows that including the many health & pollution costs that coal power involves would more than double the energy cost, if it were properly factored in.

          As for backup power, coal & gas plants also require backup; they have planned and unplanned outages too. Wind turbines are already spread over different areas to even out the supply, and hydro, solar thermal, flow batteries & flywheel storage etc can easily cover whatever's left.

    Holland in the last few days has announced that it is generating enough wind powered electricity to cover it's domestic needs and is selling the excess to neighbouring countries.
    Ah , the essence of all great comedy - timing.

      I think you meant Denmark. The Netherlands uses fossil fuels and nuclear. And as a previous posted pointed out Denmark has the most expensive electricity in Europe, costing twice as much as France. I'm glad the federal government is looking at ending massive taxpayer subsidies on wind power.

        Except that the CEFC wasn't providing subsidies to wind power, they were providing finance, which had to be paid back with interest and earns the government a profit.

      Sometimes they have to pay to give it away. The Norwegians buy it to pump water up their hydro systems, then sell it back at a premium during peak load.

      The Danes do not have stored hot water systems, such a simple way to use some of that excess power. They are clever but not that clever.

    My interpretation was those two industries were developed enough and shouldn't need more government spending/subsidies to stand on their own feet. New spending should be on new potential energy sources... Surely there has to be something else?? Maybe I'm seeing this with rose colour glasses on.

      meanwhile subsidies are still given to coal companies.. very rosy indeed.

        That's really the only problem here. Renewable energy need to stand on its own two feet or we end up with another car industry bailout scenario...
        But same goes for oil/gas

      That argument would be valid if the fossil fuel industries received no Government subsidies. But they do, and it's in the billions.

        Including fuel rebates as a "subsidy" is a BS argument.
        And tax deductions? Doesn't every business get to claim their legitimate expenses as tax deductions?
        If you removed actual" subsidies", I think you would find that the true figure is a lot less than claimed in this article.

          They receive tax credits above and beyond the normal amounts. $4 billion in tax credits on top of normal amounts attributed to the same business. It's not a lot less than claimed. I think you'll find plenty of evidence to support this in more credibly sourced articles as well as these opinion style pieces.

            The biggest single subsidy passing from the general public to miners comes in the form of fuel tax credits, formerly the diesel fuel rebate, which were valued at $1.89 billion in 2009-10, the report said.

            "As Treasury has confirmed, the fuel tax credit scheme is not a subsidy," a spokesman for the council said. "It is simply the least inefficient way of reducing the incidence of fuel tax on business inputs."


            So nearly half is fuel rebate, which is NOT a subsidy.


            Last edited 13/07/15 4:28 pm

              It's still a direct handout of taxpayer dollars, however you want to spell it - and the more fossil fuels are burned, the more dollars we give them. This removes much of the incentive to reduce fossil fuel usage or find alternatives, and benefits the oil industry at the expense of other public services. Meanwhile, tax credits for alternative energy are being phased out as "no longer necessary".

              Then there's the accelerated depreciation granted to the oil & gas industry (but not renewables), the hundreds of millions spent to help out poor struggling business projects like the Galilee Coal mine, not to mention the $6B budget hole created by repealing the Carbon Pricing Mechanism.

              But that's OK, I'm sure us taxpayers are all delighted to continue paying all the external costs of coal (such as the $2.6 billion annual health cost from coal-fired power plants).

                Let us all not forget either that the companies that own these large coal mines are also shifting all of their money out of the country to safe tax havens, and that includes taxpayer subsidies.

                The "spending tax payers dollars" on coal argument only makes sense from the point of view of the tax payers who don't feel good about funding a polluting industry (which is fair and legitimate). It is an ethical issue, not a "wasting our money" issue.

                Instead of it being "a direct handout of taxpayer dollars" it could be looked at as a direct "investment" of tax payer dollars. Surely the tax income generated directly and indirectly by the coal industry outweighs the money the government is injecting into the coal industry (remember we are not only counting the income tax paid by coal mining companies but also the income tax from employees, from auxiliary businesses and their employees etc)?

                Our challenge as a nation (and globally for that matter) is to produce clean energy and keep people employed/keep the economy healthy.

                  I agree with your points; there are good reasons to invest in fundamental aspects of society, and the energy sector has long attracted government dollars due to the many knock-on effects that cheap energy has on the economy and costs of living. This is the main reason fossil fuels have been subsidised so widely and for so long.

                  However, the situation has changed somewhat. It is now clear that the costs of burning fossil fuels are far more extensive than we thought. Pollution costs have long been talked about, but numerous studies are now showing that the health costs of coal pollution alone would double the cost of coal power, if they were factored into the price rather than paid by the general public & taxpayers. And then there's the harder-to-quantify but no less significant costs of climate change. The more we look beyond the direct costs, the clearer it becomes that the economics of burning fossil fuels for energy are much less favourable than we realised.

                  This may have been justifiable in the past, when the scale was smaller and the alternatives fewer, but now that we've passed the point where building new wind and solar power capacity is cheaper than building more coal power even without considering indirect costs, there's simply no reason to expand our coal sector any further. And when you factor in all the indirect costs to society as well, there's every reason to accelerate the development of alternative energy, and phase out coal power as quickly as is reasonable to do so. Redirecting our subsidies is simply the first step.

                  This is all pure economics. It's just good business to get out of coal, when you look at the wider picture. The ethical considerations of the human suffering from e.g. the 200,000 excess deaths globally attributed to coal pollution each year, are just more reasons to take action sooner.

                There is a tax placed on diesel to cover the use of roads. Trucks on the road "use the road up" more than cars and so pay this additional tax. (awesome! user pays!)
                Because miners, and farmers, are buying the diesel and not "using" the road this tax is refunded to them.
                The argument that this refund is a subsidy is the biggest furphy that the renewable energy advocates throw about. Frankly they (you) lose credibility every time it's used.

                Last edited 14/07/15 8:06 am

                  First, the Fuel Excise isn't for road maintenance, certainly not primarily. So I'm afraid you're the one who's been misled. From
                  Petrol and diesel excises are levied primarily to raise revenue. A second reason is to recover from road users the costs they impose on society. And, historically, revenue from excise was at times hypothecated to fund expenditure on roads.

                  Second, miners use roads too. Third, the costs that fossil fuel mining in particular impose upon society go far beyond road maintenance (see my health cost link above, for just one example).

        You can get your own rebate by installing solar hot water and/or solar electricity. I have many, many Green friends who have. . . . Oh, hang-on, not one of my Green friends has installed solar power, not one. I guess it is always better to just whine than actually do something useful. I would be damn curious to know how many whingers on these fora who vote for Labor and the Greens have installed solar electricity or solar hot water. My guess is very few!

          Seems like a lot of people are indeed doing something, rather than simply whinging. Also seems your guess isn't very good. Perhaps you could be doing some research, rather than whinging on these fora yourself.

      Yeah I guess that coal industry is just in its infancy and needing those huge subsidies. Best would be to remove all subsidies at the supply end and energy prices reflect their true cost. This would make home installations much more cost competitive. Subsidies can then be applied where they should belong - at the consumer end where they can be used in a progressive manner. This would drive efficiencies in consumption and improvements in technology.

      The CEFC doesn't provide subsidies, it provides investment for businesses developing or commercialising clean energy technology, or business who supply goods/services towards that end. As such it makes a commercial return on that investment.

      The Abbott government, having failed twice to pass legislation abolishing the CEFC, are pretty determined to wreck it by other means, firstly by directing it to adopt more risk in its portfolio earlier this year, and now by attempting to direct it not to invest in the profitable wind or solar industries. One presumes that if they turn it into a money-losing boondoggle it will be easier for them to abolish it, though the state forestry corporations lose money like it's going out of fashion and they still survive.

        This comment pretty much sums up the LNP strategy here. If you can't legally abolish it, force it to be unprofitable and then "save tax payers money" by shutting it down. That the CEFC is actually profitable, and proves the viability of renewable energy, just embarrasses the coal-fired/coal mining backers of Abbott. Remember, coal is good for humanity.

    @Roland...yes you are absolutely correct. This policy initiative is about reducing spending that we simply cannot afford and would otherwise have to either borrow (Greece) or cut other services. When will people wake up that this country is in very serious economic trouble and it needs to get its house in order before blowing millions - no, billions, on "nice to have' things

      The Clean Energy Finance Corporation was making a profit for the government. A PROFIT, it's not an expense. How colossally ignorant can you be??

        It's pretty easy, just don't get your information of credible sources. Fairfax and Newscorp are great.

          Gizmodo is actually owned by Fairfax, FYI :)

          (but I would never claim to be the bastion of academic credibility!)

            Campbell, did you read the Act and the CEFC investment strategy before writing this article? First, the Act requires that the CEFC be funded at $2bn per year for five years. That is law and so the CEFC will continue to be funded. As for the investment strategy, it explains, "This risk is managed by setting a requirement to achieve a certain level of diversification in the portfolio and, thereby, reduce the systemic risk posed by large concentrated exposures in any single investment, technology, industry, counterparty or geography." So, investing only or substantially in only solar power and wind power is inconsistent with the CEFC's own strategy, yet that is what you and the majority of the commenters on this forum require.

              Not in the slightest. I even mention in the story that investment in battery energy storage would be a good idea.

      clean energy sources are not 'nice to have' things mate, they are essential for any developed country with the means to attain them. it's irresponsible to ignore that.

      Could you explain how Australia has gone through decades of economic growth and is now somehow poorer?

      Also your comment reads a bit like not immunising kids because because by not doing so we save money - "bugger their future".

        Because terrorism. At least that's what Tony tells me.

      Honestly if I could give you another 15 thumbs downs I would. The Government is already blowing millions of dollars on the dead end coal industry. What is abbot going to do next? Tell us that flat screen TVs look ugly and start subsidizing analog TVs? It would be funny if it wasn't so insane and true! We are going to be the last country on the planet still burning goal to supply electricity and we are in the perfect location to produce solar and wind energy (not to mention wave energy).... this is totally BONKERS! The country is run by a simple minded fool.... A Neanderthal Man!

      Last edited 14/07/15 12:17 am

        If tony could find a foreign CRT screen manufacturer to 'donate' money to the LNP, then yes, CRT screens would become 'The future of humanity.'

        Amazing, but true!

      It's interesting that while the LNP are telling us that a deficit is bad Joe Hockey is telling us all to go out and borrow money as it is so cheap at the moment. A deficit is not bad - anyone who has a mortgage would most likely have a budget deficit. Some of the biggest companies on the planet have always borrowed money (i.e. run a deficit).

      I appreciate that Australia has a large revenue problem, and that was because our worst ever treasurer (Costello) gave some permanent tax reductions during a temporary mining construction boom... That would be like working for a company that promised to give a big bonus every year even when they are losing money - it would be great to work for that company until of course it went bankrupt... Smart economic policy would encourage you to invest in infrastructure and education in the good times to keep the good times going - not hand out tax decreases to get voted back in. Unfortunately however we have been conditioned to think that deficit is bad and surplus is good - despite the fact that this is not the way everyone with a mortgage operates.

    Dear future readers,
    We apologise for the state of the world left for you but would like you to know that we all didn't agree with our Prime Minister regarding renewable energy.
    Hope you are coping with the "Mad Max" Dystopia our continued reliance on fossil fuels has left you.

      Pfft! Kids are the Future but TODAY BELONGS TO ME!

    I'm completely baffled by this government's energy strategies. Why the ongoing fascination with coal power and non-renewables? If Abbott is dead set on killing Australian innovation and manufacturing - and relying on resource exports for economic growth - what's the medium to long term economic benefit anyway, given the plummet in resource commodity prices and the impending Chinese economic recession? Who is really pulling the strings behind the scenes with lobbying?

    Bloomberg, Jan 2015: "China was the biggest single contributor among the major markets for renewable energy, increasing its investment to $89.5 billion, the BNEF report showed. The nation has become the top market for solar power and one of the largest for wind after ladling out support for the industries to diversify its energy supplies."

      I'm wondering if it has something to do with the fact that coal fired power generation employs people and wind doesn't. Sure, there is the manufacturing (which happens overseas), the installation and the maintenance work involved in running wind turbines but these jobs directly and indirectly employ very small numbers of people compared to coal fired power plants.

      I'm not trying to make an argument against investing in renewables, I'm just wondering if the Abbot government is worried most about how employment figures will be affected in certain parts of the country?

        You'll find most equipment for coal stations is imported as well. At least it would have opened new markets for local manufacturers to get in rather than as currently "all our current gear is brand X for the expansion/upgrade we will continue to use brand X"

          Your point about "new markets for local manufacturers to get in" is an interesting one. Wind turbine design and maintenance is not a new global industry. If an Australian manufacturing company is not already globally competitive then would they be likely to get work with the local wind farm industry (see Australia's current submarine building contract dilemma)?

          Although much of the equipment used in coal power stations is imported, coal power stations import and consume a lot more of it than wind farms. It takes a lot to maintain all the wearing parts (motors, compressors, pumps, conveyors and turbines) of a coal power station, they are just much larger, more complex plants (coal transportation and combustion, ash collection and disposal, water collection, treatment and disposal etc).

          Green energy is awesome! It is better for the environment and hence for people, but how can the economy (and hence people) deal with it if it creates less jobs?

            Not sure about wind, but Australia does do a lot of solar research, CSIRO in particular.

            I think requiring less equipment and jobs to maintain is surely better? Creating jobs just to fix stuff that breaks a lot isn't so helpful if the effort could be better utilised elsewhere (see the Broken Window Fallacy).

              Thanks for drawing attention to the Broken Window Fallacy. Something to think about...

        It's because miners pay royalties to the govt - it is that simple. Without them digging goal from the ground govt revenue goes down. So they will do everything possible to keep the miners continuing to dig coal from the ground, as that continues their revenue stream. It's like gambling and smoking - everyone knows they are bad, but the govt won't stop it as they are addicted to the revenues...

    I for one wish the Abbott government was not in control... I wish they were gone...
    - A Gay Windfarmer

      You should get a job at the ABC.

    they’re “ugly” (Abbott), “noisy” (Abbott), “utterly offensive” (Hockey), “not particularly nice to look at” (Cormann) and “visually awful” (Abbott again).
    Sounds like a perfect description of the government...

      100% irrelevant for the government or any leaders to be miss universe.
      I would comprehend, follow and admire mr blobfish if he is well educated, smart and creative.

    This is probably THE most backward thinking government we've had in the history of this nation. I thought cutting back in the fibre internet was bad, not to mention a million other smaller things, but this? It boggles the mind.

    The Dutch sued their government for not doing enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Unfortunately it's not that simple for the Australian people to sue the Abbot government for the same -

    Maybe we can sue for defamation of character: he's making us Aussie's look like a bunch of idiots to the rest of the world.

      The people can't, but maybe the renewable energy companies can, once the TPP is in place!

    Dear Governmental Idiots (Abott et al.),

    Please take the 4 squillion dollars you spend each year "financing" the coal industry, to retrain coal miners in installation and maintenance of renewable/green power solutions, and then use the remainder of funds to actually install these, everywhere you can.


    Almost all of Australia.

    Last edited 13/07/15 12:32 pm

    If the idea of having solar panels on your roof is appealing then you go and buy them. The whole thrust of this article is that you want somebody else to help pay for your benefit. Taxpayer subsidies and and subsidies from poorer people like renters who pay through increased utility charges to pay for solar panels for the well off. You want them, you buy them, stop expecting others to help pay for them. "Green" energy schemes are reverse socialism, taking from the poor to feed the rich with subsidies, grants, tax breaks and feed in revenues. End of story.

      You're not *entirely* wrong, but you're partially wrong. Subsidies exist for a whole range of socially useful services and initiatives in Australia, but they're not all pointed exactly where they could do the most good to the most people, particularly in the renewables sector at the moment. I think that's my thrust, or at least its intended direction.

      The other problem with solar in somewhere like Melbourne is that the payback is something like 15 years give or take. That's with subsidies.
      And If everyone started feeding back into the grid the energy companies would have to change their business models and you probably wouldn't be paid for excess energy anymore... making the payback worse.

      If you're in Queensland though, that's a different story. The payback is much better and you probably don't need subsidies because it makes financial sense.

        People often quote that, but I don't see that as being an issue - if I've bought a house, and invested in solar, then I'm anticipating having the property longer than 15 years, and most likely pass it onto my children.
        In that context, and also considering energy costs will assuredly rise in the next 15 years, the scale of payback is less of a defining factor.

          Sure, it's not a deal breaker... but not everyone keeps the same house for 15 years... not everyone owns their own house either.

          My point is, just because solar is awesome, it's not an instant auto-buy for most people.

      The CEFC doesn't provide subsidies, it provides capital, upon which it expects (and receives) a commercial rate of return. Your argument is like saying that people shouldn't take out home loans to buy a house because they shouldn't expect others to help pay for them.

      Subsidizing something that is good for the environment and the future of the human race is not a bad thing.

    If I were cynical I'd say Abbott is deliberately putting financial pressure on the industry so that other big business can swoop in and 'save' them then the government money will start flowing again.

    Rooftop solar is a tax on the poor to subsidize the rich.
    Poor people can't afford to install solar on their roofs and so are forced to pay higher electricity bills to subsidize the rich who get handsome rewards for the solar on their roof.

    Australia is supposed to have a progressive tax system.
    Giving rich people the poor's money is not progressive.

      I tend to agree with the first part - only the rich or well off can afford them.
      But it seems that a majority will disagree going by the comments above.

      I really thought I was in /r/Australia reading these comments...
      All that was missing was a few phrases with Tony Abbott is a c#$% here and there...

        Do you people really think that? It's not a lot to install a 5kw system to offset your usage. Around $5000. Much less than the average swimming pools that get put in every year in "poor" households. And at 5kw, you'd never use it all, meaning that most people would get by just fine with 1.5 to 3.5kw setups that cost even less.

        If we're talking completely off the grid.. then yes, it is a lot more of an expense.

          The Age pension in Australia is $391/week.
          When you can live on that and can save $5k for solar come back and let us know.
          Then you'll have some credibility.

            So the government systematically removing the ability for the most vulnerable to improve their lives is reason to not invest in long term infrastructural solutions?

            I'd like to subscribe to your magazine.

          $5000? please tell me where and I'll sign up. Last three quotes I received for a 5KW system were just under $10k (WA)

            Tru value solar are installing my 5kw system as I sit here. Under $4k fully installed :)

              I hope you never go on the whirlpool forums and read up True value solar and alllllll their problems, poor installations and cheap systems/equipment they use...

          Yes, let me spend $5000 I don't have anyway to install solar panels and an inverter on my landlord's house. Do you know where I can buy portable systems so I can take it with me when I move? You know nothing and your advice is utterly useless to people who are subsidising the well off through their hard earned taxes and over inflated electricity bills paying for their solar panels.

            I don't understand your position. Do you want nobody to have solar because renters can't have solar?

            Why don't you move to a house that already has solar?
            What's that? There aren't many of those around?

            Maybe more landlords would install solar if there was an incentive to do so.

              I didn't say I wanted nobody to have solar. My position is clear, anybody who want solar can have it, call the solar supermarket, go and buy it, it's all yours. Just don't expect me to pay for yours, which is clearly what you want.

                You seem to be making a lot of noise about paying for what other people might get, but surprisingly little about what you actually get from other people.
                That subsidised healthcare you enjoy ? Paid for by a lot of other people, even by people who aren't even Australians and are not able to use the service they have paid for.
                The maintenance on the road, via road tax - are you lifting your weight on that ? I suspect not, but you probably have no qualms about other people paying for it.
                That house you live in - did you pay towards it being built ? Or the water, sewage and other utilities that lead into the property - did you pay for them to be dug, installed and commissioned ?
                No, you did not and yet you still enjoy those inherent benefits at a mere fraction of the cost it took to get installed. How unfair for you.

                The examples could run off the page but the thrust of the matter is, you get subsidised for a lot more than you put in - and as a nation, we're happy to continue doing that, because it's not about you or me, but about helping Australians as a whole.
                Some of those things that get funded by taxpayers money may not be to your liking, but that's the way it goes.
                In 20 years time, solar panels may well be as ubiquitous as TV antennas, and you'll reap the benefits of cheaper energy without having had to front up for a solar array, or even a house, if you happen to still be renting then.

                Pot, I'd like you to meet Kettle.

          “The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

          Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

          But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

          This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
          - Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

          If you can afford five thousand dollars to install solar panels, you are not poor. You are well-off.
          Understand that the median Australian wage is under $60,000. An entire month's wages is nothing to sneeze at, and not something that folks have sitting in savings unless they are 'well-off'. Around one in ten households in Australia have pools. I don't think you can really point to the poor buying them instead of solar panels as some kind of trend.

          They payback on that $5000 (which is a very generous estimate) is something like 15 years.... That probably less if you're in Melbourne and generating far less power than say Queensland.

        its a bit like putting a gst on fresh food and veggies, most people who are struggling cant afford fresh food and veggies and thus are force to by frozen and processed food instead so by rights the gst would then hitting the well off and not the battlers

      Poor people also need things like breathable air and productive farmland.

        Yes, but need others to pay for it.
        Also you're being a little dramatic...

          Further increases in mean global temperatures will result in a reduction tenable farmland via a rise in cases of desertification in dry land regions (you know, where the vast majority of Australia's agricultural sector operates) , there is no drama about it. The world needs to eat.

            we are producing record amounts of food than ever before. Even with this halt in warming.

            We are producing smarter and more.
            We adapt...

      If only there was some sort of "corporation" that could "finance" innovation in the "clean energy" sector so that things like solar power could become more affordable to everybody.

      I find it odd that the answer to "Only rich people can afford solar" isn't "make solar more affordable" it's "stop the rich getting solar".

      Here are some ideas
      A) You can only claim negative gearing on a property if it has a certain environmental rating (things like solar panels). This will help increase the amount of rental properties that have solar power.
      B) A HECS type scheme for clean energy. You can get solar power installed and pay it off over a period of time through your tax.
      C) Solar Installation Rental Scheme - A framework that allows landlords to install solar power and recover up to 60% of the installation costs through a temporary rental surcharge. Must be agreed to by both landlords and tenants.

        This corporation sounds like a great idea!
        Maybe we could charge everyone more for their electricity to finance it!
        Oh, wait. We are.
        At the end of the day solar is more expensive than fossils. The question is who is going to pay for the difference between the two so that you can sleep easier at night. I vote you do. I sleep fine how I am.

          Over its lifetime, the CEFC’s current portfolio is presently expected to earn a return of approximately 7 per cent, or around 3.5 per cent above our benchmark cost of the Australian Government five-year bond rate.

          The CEFC was making a profit.

          I vote you do.

          I am happy to pay for it. Do we now get to dictate where our tax revenue goes? I'd like less spent on chaplaincy programs for schools, less on Border Force and more on clean energy.

          The 2014/15 Financial year I paid over $20,000 in tax and received $0 in welfare. If a percentage of that went to the CEFC then good.

          I sleep fine how I am.

          I'm glad you sleep well. Generally I do to, but then occasionally I remember that coal is a finite resource that will eventually run out and wonder what will happen then. Sometimes I worry about how well my house would fair in a zombie apocalypse, but that's not relevant to this discussion.

            Upvote for me agreeing with everything.

            I've decided that my house is particularly zombie- and raptor- insecure. However, after May's "super storm", it seems alright vs crazy weather. I'm not sure if I want to keep testing that though.

          Liberal/Nationals in a nutshell; the world can burn, so long as they save a few bucks. @dal, incidentally, I changed to 100% renewable/carbon offset electricity with Powershop, and it ended up significantly less expensive than my previous Energy Australia bills. So yeah, the notion that renewable are exorbitant serves the entrenched power companies well, but it's not in any way true.

        A) Negative gearing - tax writeoff for the well off funded by other taxpayers
        B) Interest free loan - interest costs of loan paid for by other taxpayers
        C) 60% discount on purchase of solar panels for landlord paid for by tenant, who gets negligable benefit and loses it all when they move out.
        All of your 'ideas' involve taking money from those who can't afford it and giving it to those who can. Nobody is stopping the rich getting solar. Go buy a system tomorrow. They just don't want to pay for it and people like you are still suggesting somebody else pays for it.

          A) Negative gearing - tax writeoff for the well off funded by other taxpayers

          Which already exists. I suggested making it more strict. It means that people will have to install solar on their investment properties or no longer claim negative gearing. Making a tax policy that benefits the rich more restrictive should be a good thing, right?

          B) Interest free loan - interest costs of loan paid for by other taxpayers

          Again, this sort of thing already exists.
          The No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS®) is designed for people on welfare benefits who need safe, fair and affordable access to credit. The scheme offers loans of up to $1200 to people on low incomes. There are no interest charges or fees.

          There is no interest charged on HELP debts.

          Also "taxpayers" doesn't mean the poor. People in higher tax brackets pay more tax, and therefore would be paying more towards the scheme.

          C) 60% discount on purchase of solar panels for landlord paid for by tenant, who gets negligable benefit and loses it all when they move out.

          They get a reduction in electricity costs by living in a property with solar power.

          Conceptually, It's kind of like two identical properties but one has a pool. The one with the pool is $5 a week more in rent. You don't get to keep the pool when you move out even though you have spent more money because it exists.

          C might be the weakest of my examples. You'd have to run the numbers and see if that made sense in terms of reduced electricity costs etc.

      Dal, seriously? You really have no idea. There are NO handsome rewards anymore. People who signed up years ago were getting handsome rewards - definitely not these days!!

      Since installing solar and solar hot water on our house at 6c per Kh/w feed in tariff, we lost our off-peak tariff and got lumped with a slightly higher kw/h usage rate. Despite timing devices to come on during the day when the sun is shining, we cannot get our electricity bills lower than before we had solar.

      My partner and I work from 7am to 7pm so don't consume much electricity during the day, and we don't have a pool.

      I maintain my stance that Origin and the like are benefiting the most here by on-selling electricity they pay 6c for, and charge back at 30c.

        we cannot get our electricity bills lower than before we had solar.
        LOL. Either you are using more energy than before or you have your solar panels plugged in backwards.

          "Solar panels plugged in backwards" is an amazing idea. I imagine they fire laser beams into the sky.

        what about your batteries?
        Oh did you install solar just to make money off and not actually to save on coal based electricity consumption.

      This is only accurate in the way some states have implemented the solar feed in tariffs historically (such as the 60c feed in tariff that used to exist in NSW). But now these have been abolished there is very little if anything in subsidy that you get for installing solar panels in most states (as far as I am aware). The solar installations that the CEFC was investing is was those that were not easy (e.g. a shared facility on a large block of flats where there are multiple owners). And as has been stated over and over again, the CEFC makes money for the govt. It is not a subsidy - it is a loan - just one that is focused on clean energy providers. The govt hands out all sorts of loans to all sorts of industries. The LNP is not looking to get rid of all of the other loans - just the ones that stop people from using coal, as they (and the states) collect billion in royalty from the miners - and they need this revenue - and clean energy decreases their royalties from miners.

    To put it bluntly, This shit is fucked!!.

    Anyone who votes in the liberals for the next election needs to be committed.

    But I thought of a reason why the Abott govn't are doing this.

    They're going to turn around after Labor gets into power next round, and spends all this money on renewables/ NBN etc, getting us back to where we were before they came to power and say "look at all the money the Labor Govn't are spending money hand over fist, it's an economic disaster, we need to be elected to fix this" then the dumb asses that voted them in this time go "Economic Disaster, need to fix this" and we go back to the dark ages again.

      Actually read into what is being done, don't just jump on the media band wagon. Read my comment below ffs... some people.

    i don't get this wanker.
    he is soo fucken backwards its not funny.

    My understanding of this is that the wind=energy industry is doing very well now with wind farms all over the place. Thus they should be well and truly in position to stand on their own two feet. The money available for promoting renewable / alternative energy sources is finite, so let's invest it in other areas.
    Can't see anything wrong with that line of reasoning.

      As every one else has said. It's not the issue that they were subsidized. The issue is now they are not but coal still is. I'm sure coal is doing well enough to stand on its own two feet.

    And all the while, coal and gas plants around the country continue to burn.

    Well sorry, but if you like to work in your nice office with heating on this cold day, with lights that turn on so you can see, with a computer that connects to the internet, street lights to light the dark, and a train to get to a from work...need base load power.

    Don't demonise coal and (the much "cleaner") gas power, it is lifting millions out of poverty and we would not be here if it wasn't for it.

      No one can dispute that exploiting said resources hasn't benefited society in innumerable ways. However we now have BETTER options. Options that don't result in humanity digging it's own and every other species on this planets collective grave due to ongoing use. It's fairly simple, invest and transition now... or watch everything we've built fall to pieces because some people refused to listen.

      Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Alternatives exists, the demand and "jerbs" are not going anywhere.

      You do know that whole you need a base load power supply thing is a myth.
      Even more so in countries like Aus that have a national grid.

        Let's turn off the coal and gas power stations and see what happens...

          Better still, let's let the CEFC continue to invest in alternative energy sources first, rather than making up absurd choices, then we can phase out dirty coal power as soon as reasonably practical.

          I wonder if you'd be so pro-coal if you lived within 50km of an actual coal plant yourself, where the risk of premature death is up to 3-4x higher. So yeah, that's one thing that turning them off would change.

            Let the CEFC invest in technologies that aren't being already built by th e private industry.

            We already have RET, why should we also have CEFC pumping more money in where businesses should be and are already spending or investing money.

            The entire idea behind CEFC was to invest in new tech, not existing wind farms.

            Never said they were clean. I just said there is no alternative that won't cost a truck load and push up prices, and is reliable like coal and gas..

          If we had other sources of energy, sure you could no worries at all.
          Base load is a myth purported by coal based energy companies, that all forms of renewable energy are unreliable and that you need a coal station running, for the day that all renewable fails. A way to keep coal alive even if renewables take off.
          Way to be part of the propaganda machine.

            Base load a myth? Victoria runs on about 80% this fantasy base load coal

              80% of electricity in Victoria is coal produced Yes.
              but there is no reason why it has to be produced by coal. The base load myth as I have said is that power has to be generated by coal, it doesn't that's the fantasy.
              but coal is just so super frikken awesome we can never leave it.

              Victoria runs on about 80% this fantasy base load coal <--- that makes no sense.
              Base load is the minimum level of demand, your saying the lowest demand Victoria has is 80% of what? total capacity? average usage? peak usage?

              I will admit there may have been confusion saying base load myth, as opposed to "base load Myth" which is a myth about base load, base load is a thing, but yes the myth is it must be produced by coal.

              Is a good reference as well, pay particular attention to the part that starts with "Why baseload is misleading as a supply-side term."

              Last edited 14/07/15 10:59 pm

    Tesla's Battery system for homes is not particularly innovative. About 2 years ago we installed a battery backup solar system manufactured in the Netherlands. It has the same performance and specifications as the Tesla system but cost less. We are now supplying power to the grid, both day and night. It is quite interesting to watch how our system works, with generated electricity exceeding our own consumption by a pretty wide margin throughout the day.

    Abbott is a fart-faced fool, an idiot who lives in the 15th century. He should be ignored all of the time, as should his entire front bench.

    On the face of it I too reacted like the author did. Typical Liberals blah blah blah. But then I actually thought about it....

    Why would they stop the funding of wind? Then I realised, because we need alternatives! This Government organisation exists to fund high risk green energy projects. Projects like:

    * CSIRO's Solar thermal project
    * Oceanlinx wave power generator
    * and so on.

    So the question remains, why should the Government be investing in matured energy technology projects that banks would now consider low risk?

      Because this "matured energy technology" needs more infrastructure development.

        You missed the entire point. The Government body is an over glorified high risk investment body. Banks give out loans to low risk ventures so those entrepreneurs can bloody well go to a bank like every other business.

        Last edited 14/07/15 4:26 pm

          The CEFC's mission:
          Accelerate Australia's transformation towards a more competitive economy in a carbon constrained world, by acting as a catalyst to increase investment in emissions reduction.
          So they should be investing in whatever carbon-neutral developments will boost the economy and further investment. Nothing there about focusing on high-risk technologies.

          You should probably be asking, why has the Government seen fit to restrict the CEFC's investment choices, rather than just letting it do its job?

            Abbot is a staunch Christian, therefor climate change doesn't exist because God won't let it.
            so why spend money on things that wont actually happen.

              Wow! pulling out the religion card, way too be a dick...

                Pulling out the religion card against a person that uses the religion card himself.
                Abbot has used religion as an excuse in a lot of his decisions, I'm not pulling the card out, the cards already on the table.

                  the pope even came out and said be green and environmentally friendly and you still pull out the card....

            Go to CEFC's website, click on the about page and expand their graph to see where they sit. You're getting the CEFC confused with Low carbon Australia. CEFC sits on the commercialisation stage of investment ie not already matured markets (Diffusion).

            So your assumptions are wrong, its not their responsibility. Nor should it be. They are not an investment bank. Investors already exist and already provide the necessary function and do it significantly better. What isn't provided is exactly what the CTIP, ARENA and CEFC provide.

            Last edited 17/07/15 10:44 am

              I note their position on that diagram covers not just commercialisation but market development too.
              We seek to catalyse and leverage funding for commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies necessary for Australia's transition to a carbon constrained economy.(emphasis mine)

              Seems pretty clear to me that they should be investing in programs to get solar and wind actually deployed, not just ready to sell. The small-scale solar leasing partnerships they were doing were an excellent example of that - which they are now forbidden to do.

              One of solar's greatest strengths is its ability to decentralise, to create power at small scales with wide distribution, right where it will be consumed - and the capital costs are within reach of the average consumer. Why would you not want to encourage that? Why would the government go out of its way to block that? It's clean power, reduces peak loads, good for everyone involved - except perhaps the vested coal sector...

                What? Are you high? Both Solar and Wind farms have been deployed on large scales for a very long time. So no the tech is not even remotely emergent.

                You should try Google if you do not believe me. Wikipedia have easy to read lists with commercialised installations dating back to f**king 1981.

                Last edited 26/08/15 2:44 pm

                  Settle down mate, let's keep it civil shall we?

                  I disagree about "very long time" commercialised or large scale deployments - we didn't even get a 1MW PV farm until 2009, and Wikipedia claims that "the first commercial-scale PV power plant was opened in 2011" (also only 1MW). The 1981 system you mentioned was a 25kW research installation using steam pistons. The first solar farm that could be described as "large scale" was the 100MW Nyngan plant, completed just two months ago. That sounds like a commercial market that's only just starting to mature now.

                  But the point of my post was actually about widespread, small-scale deployments, which is where solar can really make a difference. A handful of those have been around for decades (my father ran an off-grid system in the 80s), but the economics weren't there for most until just a few years ago, there were few qualified installers, no feed-in tariffs etc. That's all changing now, thanks in large part to bodies like the CEFC getting the market started.

                  The other real point here is, why does the Government feel the need to tell the CEFC how to do its job anyway? Why are they forbidding specific investment programs, particularly when they've been so successful in the past? They're not losing money, so it can't be a funding issue. Surely the CEFC has enough expertise to be able to determine which investments serve its purpose best; more than any politician, that's for sure.

                  Which leads to the obvious conclusion that the Government is explicitly changing the CEFC's purpose to avoid promoting small-scale solar. What are its motives for that? Again, it can't be a funding issue, so I'm interested to hear your proposed reasons.

      Mark_d, why invest in something low risk? You're really asking that question???? *facepalm*
      High risk investments could potentially be a waste of taxpayer money, it's sensible to make low risk investments. Sheesh.
      They're stopping the funding because:
      A) Ideology.
      B) They receive massive funding from the big energy companies, who have a vested interest.

        It is not the job of the Government body. They exist to promote emerging tech. To quote from their website projects in the early demo phase, commercialisation or accumulation. Not matured projects or diffusion.

        TL;DR before you comment, learn why the CEFC exists before jumping on the bandwagon of ignorance.

        Last edited 14/07/15 4:28 pm

      Except that their stated goal is to eliminate the CEFC altogether. I appreciate the positive thinking but I think you're giving far too much credit.

        Unfortunately I would believe that backwards mentality. Liberals have proven to Australia that they do not build anything worth any social value. (oh but don't forget about military, wars are great for votes...)

    Whale oil is still a thing right... Right?

      Perhaps it is for the Inuit and the like. Is it your desire to take that part of their culture from them?

        Absolutely... grab your harpoons people, we're going on a whale hunt.

    But why has no one mentioned that that government conveniently sold off electricity to private hands for 99 years on top of this? so they sell it off to make a profit and in tern companies jack prices up and make it a law that only private companies and produce something that is free for everyone? If it becomes the case I'll buy and install my own (licensed Sparky). They are trying to run it into the ground.

      Your now mixing up federal government and state government decisions.
      privatisation of electricity generation and distribution is a state government matter.
      something that is free for everyone? I take it you're talking about solar now. You know you can go off grid, that's perfectly acceptable you don't have to pay a cent then.

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