- Budget commits billions towards greener energy but offers no price relief
- Energy prices set to rise by 30 per cent despite claim of ‘more affordable’ power
- Retailers and regulators point to renewables switch as cause of power increases
- Various nations struggling with renewables and coal is making a comeback
- Senator slams millions spent on hosting UN summit while Aussie hit by bill hikes
Published: 07:00 AEDT, 27 October 2022 | Updated: 07:47 AEDT, 27 October 2022
Despite constant claims renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels the billions being poured into greening Australia’s power and hosting UN climate talkfests appears to be only driving up the price of electricity.
Labor went into the May election with a promise of slashing electricity bills by $275 a year, a pledge that was meant to be delivered by its commitment to renewables.
However, Tuesday’s Budget instead predicted a staggering 56 per cent hike in prices in the next year on top of the already ballooning bills.
But at the same time the Albanese government announced they will funnel $10 million into climate activist groups the Environmental Defenders Office and Environmental Justice Australia.
Prime minister Anthony Albanese was forced to explain why Labor’s commitment to renewables is not delivering the promised electricity bill deductions
When asked about this in parliament on Wednesday Prime Minister Anthony Albanese repeated the mantra of his government.
‘The cheapest form of new energy in this country is renewables,’ he said.
On budget night Treasurer Jim Chalmers told the ABC that despite him not being able to predict when prices would come down the $25 billion being spent on various climate change measures would help.
‘Renewable energy isn’t just cleaner energy, it’s cheaper energy as well,’ Chalmers said.
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan was not impressed with the Albanese government’s spending on hosting a UN climate conference
North Queensland Nationals Senator Matt Canavan, who is a strong proponent of mining and fossil fuel, strongly disagreed with both the Prime Minister and Treasurer.
‘Power prices are going up because we are investing too much in renewable energy that is not on all the time,’ Senator Canavan told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.
‘Australia has been building more solar and wind per person than any country in the world.’
A particular Budget item that Senator Canavan latched onto was the almost $50 million the Albanese government has committed to ‘restoring Australia’s reputation’.
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan placed the blame for sky-rocketing energy prices squarely on the transition to renewables
The centerpiece of this measure will be hosting UN-overseen conference in partnership with Pacific island nations to build clean energy partnerships and agreements .
‘Labor can’t help you with your power bills but they are going to spend $46 million of your money to host a UN climate conference,’ Senator Canavan tweeted on Tuesday night.
He expanded on this in a response to Daily Mail Australia.
‘Instead of spending money on helping rich people attend a climate talkfest, the Australian Government should be using our coal, gas and uranium to make more power and bring down living costs for struggling Australian families,’ he said.
‘The Government is wasting our money by funding more jobs for climate bureaucrats.’
The largest part of the Albanese government’s $25 billion being spent on making Australia more green will be for rewiring the grid to make it more renewables friendly
The budget contains a mind-boggling multitude of green projects, subsidies and new government agencies to bring about the Albanese government’s commitment of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
There is even $8.1 million to improve the energy efficiency of seaweed farmers.
However, by far the biggest sum, $20 billion, will be for rewiring the nation’s grid to make it more renewable energy friendly.
On top of this $275 million will be spent on getting more electric cars on the road while $224 million will toward the community batteries that will store power from household solar panels.
One of the stranger items in the budget is the commitment of $8.1 million to make seaweed farming more energy efficient
Re-establishing ‘international climate leadership’ will cost $296 million, of which $200 million will go to help Indonesia with green projects.
A new agency, the national health sustainability and climate unit, will inform Australia’s ‘health response’ to climate change.
The green bureaucracy will also be beefed up by the injection of a further $194 million, with $102 million to restore the Climate Change Authority and $64 million to rebuild Treasury’s climate modelling capability.
Senator Canavan delivered a scathing assessment of what the new public servants would achieve.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivers the federal budget, which contained a bleak outlook on power prices
‘Power prices won’t be lowered from a desk in Canberra, they can only be lowered by building more generators across our nation,’ he said.
The Environmental Defenders Office have campaigned to block laws aimed at stopping disruptive climate protests, such as the protests that halted coal loading at Sydney’s Port Botany earlier this year.
Environmental Justice Australia lobbies against new coal and gas projects and organised a group of children and teens to claim Australia’s lack of action on climate change violated their human rights to the United Nations.
Two female climate protesters shut down Port Botany by abseiling off crucial machinery and the Albanese government is funding an activist group that is seeking to protect such protests from stronger laws
To support his claim that renewables are cheaper Mr Albanese cited agreement from the Business Council of Australia, the Australian industry group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the National Farmers’ Federation.
However, this has not been backed up by players in the electricity market.
Major energy retailers told a conference in October that replacing coal and gas with renewable energy is the major reason power prices are sky-rocketing.
‘Next year, using the current market prices, tariffs are going up a minimum 35 per cent,’ Alinta chief executive Jeff Dimery said at the Sydney event.
‘It’s horrendous, it’s unpalatable. We don’t want energy consumers getting their power bills and setting fire to them.’
In September reports by sector watchdogs the Energy Security Board and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) both pointed at switching to renewables as a major reason power price surges.
A coal plant in western Germany, with the European nation having to turn back to fossil fuels despite have spent well over $200 billion transitioning to renewables
Dr Chalmers pointed to ‘inflationary pressures’ for the power price increase but electricity bills have been outstripping inflation by as much as 8 per cent.
The war in Ukraine is often pointed to as major contributor to worldwide inflation but Australia is energy sufficient in coal and gas and an exporter of those things, although international prices can influence the domestic price.
Coal prices are surging but this reflects a turning away from renewables in many countries.
With the Ukraine war threatening its gas supplies Germany has began bringing around 20 of its coal power plants back online.
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This is despite the European nation being a recognised world leader in switching to renewables, which the country has spent an eye-watering $234 billion on.
Other leading nations appear to be shunning or only making token gestures towards being powered by renewables.
China is building over half of the world’s new coal-based power plants to generate an extra 33 gigawatts, according to international thinktank the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
India is also ramping up coal power with 10 new plants planned to deliver 7,010 MW of energy, which represents its biggest build up in four years.
In places such as California, where the Democrat-dominated political class remains committed to being a leader in adopting renewables, power prices rose the most steeply in the US over the period between 2016 and 2020, according to Forbes.
Electric vehicles recharge in Los Angeles with California being a leader in switching to renewables but also leading America in power price increases
California is burdened with the major flaw of renewable power – that it is intermittent and weather dependent.
This means renewable sources often produce too much power when it is not needed and not enough when it is, which in California’s case led to pleas from officials for residents to stop using energy at times there was a shortfall.
Australians faced a similar plea in June despite being one of the largest energy exporters on Earth.
The solution proposed to the problem of renewable generation not lining up with energy use is to install batteries.
However, battery storage is nowhere near sufficient to run any of Australia’s larger population centres for any great amount of time.
Victoria’s Big Battery, which is located outside the city of Geelong, caught fire in August but is up and running again
Australia’s largest store of power, if the Snowy Mountains Hyrdo Scheme is excluded, is the 300 MW Victorian Big Battery that sits outside the city of south-western city of Geelong.
The lithium-ion battery ‘will store enough energy to power more than one million Victorian homes for half an hour,’ the site’s website says.
Melbourne has over 1.8 million households but residential use is less than a fourth of Australian energy requirements, where there are streetlights, industry, hospitals, schools and multiple other power-hungry destinations to feed.
As a famous amphibian states ‘it’s not easy being green’ and neither does it appear to be anywhere near cheap.