Category Archives: Renewable energy

Greens welcome investment in NSW energy transmission infrastructure as opportunity for supporting new renewables

A fortnight after the Greens released its plan for eight renewable energy zones and upgrades to transmission projects in NSW, the State Government has today released its NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy.

The Greens have welcomed the four priority transmission projects identified in the strategy, including upgrades to the interconnectors with Queensland and Victoria, and a new interconnector with South Australia to enable renewable energy projects to connect to the grid and increase the resilience of the power network.

However, Greens MP and Energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said that with the end of the Federal Renewable Energy Target and no carbon price in place, additional and specific state-based policies were needed to provide the framework for renewable energy investment.

“The Greens strongly support new electricity transmission infrastructure for NSW to facilitate renewable energy, but we need the right policy framework in place to ensure provide the investment certainty for renewable energy,” he said.

“We are in a climate emergency which requires a rapid transformation from fossil fuels to renewable energy and storage. This strategy is a good start, but we need more state-based policies to drive the transformation.  Victoria, Queensland and the ACT are all leaving NSW behind.

“The Greens want NSW to be a renewable energy superpower.  We have the solar and wind resources and the expertise, what we need is the political will and right policy settings that will bring jobs and investment to regional areas of NSW.

“We want support from all major parties for our plan to establish eight priority Renewable Energy Zones for NSW as part of a national plan to supercharge investment in large-scale renewables connected to new transmission infrastructure.

“NSW should prepare now for the major transformation in the energy grid over coming years as outdated coal-fired power stations reach the end of their life and new connections from wind and large-scale solar plug in. It’s a great opportunity to become a renewable energy powerhouse,” he said.

Tiny, last minute spend on ’emerging energy’ won’t fix govt’s lack of credible energy and emissions reduction policy

The NSW Government has today launched an Emerging Energy Fund that promises $55 million for gas and renewable energy, a figure the Greens have slammed as totally inadequate and  lacking the ambition needed to transition NSW towards 100% renewable energy.

The $55 million is totally insufficient when you consider the NSW Government:

  • Received $37 billion from privatising the state’s electricity assets since their election;
  • Received $4.1 billion for the transfer of Snowy Hydro to the federal government;
  • Underspent the NSW Climate Change Fund by $252 million between $2014-17;
  • Gave $70 million to the Greyhound racing industry;
  • Spent $87 million on advertising; and
  • Gave $100 million to the horse racing industry as a tax break.

The Emerging Energy Program represents just 0.14% of the $37 billion the government reaped from selling off public energy assets.

Greens Energy and Climate Action spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham labelled the Emerging Energy Fund nothing more than a fig leaf announcement that barely covered the fact NSW remained without a genuine, effective energy or emissions reduction policy.

“This is a damp squib of an energy policy from a Liberal/National Government that has neglected renewable energy and climate change for seven and a half years,” he said today.

“The community would recognise that $55 million is a drop in the ocean for the energy-system restructure that is underway and will not stop NSW from lagging behind other states on renewable energy.

“It’s just 0.14% of the $37 billion the government has reaped from selling off energy assets in NSW. It’s also miserly when you consider they underspent the climate change fund to the tune of $252.9 million between 2014-17.

“It miserly compared to the Victorian Government’s $1.24 billion scheme investing in rooftop solar alone or its substantial state-based Renewable Energy Target.

“This money could be spent on fossil fuels, with the emissions limit is set at 0.5 tonnes of CO2/MWh which allows gas projects, not just true renewable energy.

“What NSW needs is genuine investment with long-term support policies such as state-based Renewable Energy Target, a tax on carbon pollution and renewable power purchase agreements by the State Government.

“NSW should not miss out on the clean energy, lower power prices, jobs and economic growth from growing our share of energy from wind, solar and other renewables.

“I’m pleased the government has finally recognised that the shift away from coal to renewable energy is inevitable. Premier Gladys Berejiklian should have a conversation with Prime Minister Scott Morrison to to burst his delusions about building new coal-fired power stations in Australia.

“Renewables, energy and climate change will be at the very top of the agenda at the NSW and Federal elections. If this Liberal/National Government doesn’t stop the spin and get real on energy policy, it will find the community will vote for other leaders who will,” Mr Buckingham said.

IPCC Special Report means NSW must phase out coal within 10 years

The IPCC’s Special Report out today outlines a climate catastrophe of unprecedented scale and impact on our community and nature if global warming is permitted to rise by more than 1.5 degrees.

The scientific consensus found:

  • all coral reefs would be unlikely to survive global warming of 2 degrees, including the Great Barrier Reef;
  • sea level rise would be about 10cm less at 1.5 degrees; and
  • an increased risk of long-lasting or irreversible changes at 2 degrees, including the loss of more species and ecosystems.

In terms of fossil fuels, the report finds coal use for electricity must be virtually eliminated by 2050 if the 1.5-degree limit is to be met.

Greens Energy and Resources Jeremy Buckingham said, “Today’s IPCC Special Report is a call to arms — the coming decade is critical in the fight to protect the people we love and our planet from dangerous climate change.

“That’s why the Greens policy is to phase out coal mining in NSW in the next 10 years. The science of this report makes it clear that we cannot continue to burn coal and protect the climate.

“The failure by the Federal Government to have a credible climate or energy policy means that NSW must implement its own climate and energy policies. Victoria, Queensland, the ACT and South Australia all have credible climate and energy policies, while NSW has sat on its hands waiting for direction from the Federal Government. Meanwhile, Federal energy policy has descended into chaos and farce.

“The next few years will be history defining. This government and the next can either fiddle while the climate heats beyond our control, or they can transform our community, economy and natural world by phasing out coal and powering our world by 100% renewable energy.

“This transformation will bring with it great opportunities for new jobs and innovative technologies. Australia can transition away from being a quarry and lead the way on renewable innovation, exporting our science, know-how and clean solar power fuel to the world.

“The task of phasing out fossil fuels is now critically urgent. If the world had acted after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the task would be easier, but Labor and Liberals, taking millions from fossil fuel donors, have squibbed it.

“Climate and energy policy will be at the top of the March 2019 state election, including seats where the Greens are challenging the Coalition such as Lismore and Coogee, and the seat of Barwon where the National’s backing of coal seam gas is deeply unpopular.

“The Greens are the only party serious about dealing with the climate emergency in Australia. When will the other parties take steps towards the serious levels of carbon emission cuts we need and admit there is no future for coal or coal seam gas?” he said.

IPCC Special Report on impact of global warming of 1.5 degrees online here:

http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/

Greens NSW Greens 10-year plan to phase out coal and protect the climate available here:

https://jeremybuckinghammlc.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/phase-out-coal-policy.pdf

NSW should reject a NEG that hampers state efforts to reduce emissions

MEDIA RELEASE – 6 August 2018

The Greens NSW energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today said the NSW Government should reject the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) if it fails to recognise state efforts to reduce emissions as additional to the National Emissions Reduction Target, to ensure that all options are open to the current and future NSW Governments to act on climate change.

“The National Energy Guarantee has been cobbled together to try to placate the dinosaurs within the federal Coalition party room. The NSW Government should reject any framework that restricts the ability of our state to implement real action to address climate change,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Victoria, the ACT, Queensland and South Australia all have state based renewable energy targets. Any future NSW Government should also implement an ambitious state-based renewable energy target and associated schemes to achieve this target.

“If the NEG undermines state-based renewable energy targets or emission reduction targets by not making them additional to the NEG’s emissions reduction target, then it ties the hands of any future state government to reduce emissions and attract jobs and investment in the renewable energy sector to NSW.

“While investment in renewable energy is currently booming, it may come to a crashing halt once the federal RET is fulfilled. That’s why state policies to develop renewable energy are important and should not be undermined by a NEG with no ambition that is primarily aimed at pleasing the dinosaurs in the Liberal and National parties.”

Luddite PM wrong to try to delay Liddell power station closure

MEDIA RELEASE – 5 September 2017

Greens NSW energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today labelled the Prime Minister a Luddite and wrong after Mr Turnbull revealed that the federal government was attempting to persuade AGL to keep the Liddell coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley open for another five years after its scheduled closure date of 2022.

“Liddell power station is one of the oldest in the country. It’s age means it does not provide the reliable electricity the Prime Minister says he wants to achieve. This is about ideology and internal Liberal Party politics, not a coherent energy policy,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Today’s AEMO Report makes it clear that the answer to our energy problems is large scale investment in renewable energy with storage. Only a luddite could read that report and want to prop up an unreliable 50 year old coal-fired power station. The NSW Government should make it clear to the Prime Minister that this is not a sensible strategy.

“It is tragic that the lack of direction and coherent policy from the federal government is causing power prices to rise and investment uncertainty in Australia at the very moment when technological advancement and global climate policies are driving a clean energy revolution.

“AGL and the other major energy companies have made it very clear they do not want to invest in coal-fired power and want a stable policy environment that allows them to make the transformation to renewable energy and storage. AGL has been building its public reputation on the impending closure of Liddell power station.

“This push to keep an ancient coal-fired power station going demonstrates that the Liberal Party is far behind the experts, the regulators, the energy companies, and public opinion when it comes to energy policy.

“The science of climate change means we must rapidly phase out coal from our energy mix. In Australia, this means closing an average of one coal-fired power station every year.

“Australian governments should be working together to implement a strategy for an orderly transition from coal, but instead we have a weak Prime Minister trying to demonstrate his fealty to the Luddites and climate science deniers in his own party, and the fossil fuel lobby.”

Solar tariff increase welcome, but energy sector should be re-nationalised to stop failure of deregulation

MEDIA RELEASE – 23 June 2017

The Greens NSW energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham welcomed IPART’s announcement today of their final determination of the solar tariff for 2017-18, with the benchmark price increased to 11.9 – 15 cents per kilowatt hour, up from 5.5 – 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour.  However, he noted that the reason for the tariff increase was the failure of privatisation and deregulation that have led to a massive increase in wholesale electricity prices.

“The Greens welcome the increase in the price paid for rooftop solar in NSW, but will continue to move for IPART to factor in an implicit carbon price and avoided health costs, to recognise the true benefit of solar power and increase the tariff to reflect those benefits, as they do in Victoria.  It is estimated that this would lift the tariff by a further 4.3 cents per kilowatt hour.

“Households and the economy are now being punished for three catastrophic policy failures:  the unregulated move into LNG exports; the privatisation and deregulation of the energy sector; and the failure to have a serious policy for the transition of the energy sector to renewable energy,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The LNG export facilities at Gladstone are like a giant vacuum cleaner sucking up gas from the domestic market and causing a massive price hike not only for gas, but also for electricity for which the price is often set by gas generators. This is a massive market failure.

“The NSW Government has privatised the energy sector and has irresponsibly abolished the IPART regulated gas price at precisely the wrong time, as well as regulated electricity prices.

“It’s time to admit that privatising essential services that are monopolies, or at best oligopolies, has failed with Australian households paying some of the highest prices for energy anywhere in the world despite an abundance of natural resources – both renewable and non-renewable.

“We should look seriously at re-nationalising the energy sector to end the profiteering and to ensure a swift transition to clean energy to deal with climate change.

“The regulated price was effective in constraining price hikes, now everyone is at the mercy of profiteering in a market dominated by an oligopoly.

“The NSW government predicted huge falls in the gas price with deregulation, but now we have big hikes in price.  Energy Minister Don Harwin should admit his government got it terribly wrong and move to have IPART re-establish a regulated price.”

Greens move for 10 year phase-out of thermal coal mining in NSW

MEDIA RELEASE – 3 March 2017

Australian Greens Leader Richard Di Natale and NSW Greens energy and resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham will today launch a new policy to phase-out thermal coal mining in ten years with a bill that would set up a framework to limit further coal mining to one billion tonnes.

The policy is a framework for:

  • 10 year time limit for thermal coal mining in NSW
  • A limit of one billion tonnes of thermal coal production
  • A competitive allocation framework for companies to bid to mine coal under a reducing cap
  • Mining royalties go to a transition fund for workers and regional economies

Here is a brief on the framework and also the bill Jeremy Buckingham will introduce into parliament next week.

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said: 

“It is a scientific fact that we cannot continue to burn coal and protect the climate. We must act now before it is too late.

“We have run out of time. We are teetering on the edge of disaster and must act seriously now or we will lock in catastrophic levels of global warming with the significant environmental, economic and social disasters that will be caused by a changing climate.

“A transition away from coal is inevitable. The real question is whether we transition fast enough to protect the climate, and whether it is a managed transition, or a chaotic collapse.

“The Greens are being prudent in seeking to set climate policy according to the science and in setting up a market-based framework to implement a phase-out of thermal coal mining.”

Australian Greens Leader, Senator Richard Di Natale said: 

“Since we cannot rely on the federal Government to provide any meaningful action towards mitigating dangerous climate change, we have to rely for now on the states to provide the country with a 21 st century energy policy. That’s exactly what the NSW Greens are proposing to do with this policy of phasing out coal.”

NSW Greens launch framework for
10 year phase-out of thermal coal mining

Key points:

  • 10 year time limit for thermal coal mining in NSW
  • A limit of one billion tonnes of thermal coal production
  • A competitive allocation framework for companies to bid to mine coal under a reducing cap
  • Mining royalties go to a transition fund for workers and regional economies


A legislative framework to phase-out coal in ten years

The NSW Greens will introduce a bill into NSW Parliament which will set a ten year phase-out timeline with a total limit on the amount of thermal coal that can be mined in NSW.

The Mining Amendment (Climate Protection – Phasing-out Coal Mining) Bill 2017 establishes a framework for a managed phase-out of coal mining in NSW in order to protect the climate from catastrophic global warming.  Research published in the esteemed scientific journal Nature found that 90% of global coal reserves must remain in the ground if there is a 50% chance of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius.  The Paris Climate Summit agreement set a target of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, with an ambition of limiting warming to only 1.5 degrees.

Phase-out trajectory

Under this bill, a maximum of one billion tonnes of thermal coal can be mined over the next ten years (no action would see 2 billion tonnes mined in this period).

mining-amendment-climate-protection-phasing-out-coal-mining-bill-2017

The framework implements a smooth phase-out trajectory over ten years.
The Mining Amendment (Climate Protection – Phasing-out Coal Mining) Bill 2017 legislates for the following timetable of maximum thermal coal production in NSW:

Year 1 180 million tonnes
Year 2 163 million tonnes
Year 3 145 million tonnes
Year 4 127 million tonnes
Year 5 109 million tonnes
Year 6 91 million tonnes
Year 7 73 million tonnes
Year 8 55 million tonnes
Year 9 37 million tonnes
Year 10 20 million tonnes
Year 11> 0 tonnes

The bill empowers the minister to implement a competitive process to allocate coal production under the caps. Mining companies would take part in a competitive auction to purchase the right to mine coal during the phase out period.

Export coal is a major contributor to climate change

Around 90% of Australian coal is mined for export.  Even if Australia shifted to 100% renewable domestic energy generation, our contribution to climate change through the mining and export of thermal coal would still be huge.

Last chance to act

The latest climate science and observations conclude that we are in a critical period for action on climate change.  If we fail to make the necessary changes to significantly reduce emissions now, then catastrophic climate change will be unavoidable.

While these measures may seem drastic, they are a bare minimum of what is required according to the science.  A less drastic phase-out of coal could have been possible if the world had started to act after the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, or in the decades since.  However, successive governments have instead sponsored and approved a massive expansion of coal mining.

Without a phase-out plan, almost 2 billion tonnes of thermal coal will be mined in NSW during the next decade, and NSW Treasury forecasts that 9.2 billion tonnes of thermal coal will be mined by 2056.  Mining and burning this amount of coal will be a major global contributor to climate change.

A competitive auction for mining rights over the ten year phase-out period is expected to raise over $7 billion, a significant proportion should go to assisting workers and regional economies transition to a post-fossil fuel era.

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham will introduce the Mining Amendment (Climate Protection – Phasing-out Coal Mining) Bill 2017, into NSW Parliament next Tuesday 7 March.

 

3 March 2017

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