Tax Breaks & Subsidies and Australia / New Zealand
The boss of Origin Energy, one of the nation's largest energy providers, has called for a review of Australias renewables targets along with the carbon tax, which he said put the nation at an increasing competitive disadvantage .
"Our main challenge is funding. The clear message from investors over the last six to 12 months is that they want to see a far greater portion of the costs contributed by the government."
"...a carbon tax will significantly increase the size and scope of Government through burdensome taxation, regulation and the potential for rent seeking by vested interests," the coalition wrote.
A carbon tax would do nothing to help the environment and its impact on carbon-dioxide emissions would be negligible, it said.
Roaring 40s is assessing a shock announcement from Canberra that the Federal Government will change its renewable energy scheme.
Spokesman Steve Jackman said the business was reviewing the announcement before it could comment on the future of its $400 million Musselroe project.
Australia's wind farm developments have ground to a halt, following a 40 per cent slump in the price of the renewable energy certificates that underwrite the industry.
The flow-on effect to regional contractors and manufacturers reliant on wind farms has been devastating.
Dorset Mayor Barry Jarvis has called on the Federal Government to offer greater incentives to companies developing renewable energy.
His call comes as doubt hangs over renewable energy company Roaring 40s' proposed $350 million wind farm development at Musselroe, as the price of renewable energy credits plummets.
When Roaring 40s planned the wind farm, renewable energy credits were worth more than $50 each - that has fallen to below $30.
The company behind a major wind farm in Tasmania's north-east has admitted it is facing significant financial hurdles. ...Managing director Steve Symons says the price of renewable energy credits (REC) ...are priced at $30 but need to be nearly double that for the project to be viable.
It might be tempting to imagine some sort of collegiate atmosphere among the developers of renewable technologies as they lead the charge towards a low carbon economy. But don't bank on it.
Professional jealousies and business rivalries simmer below the surface and are often not contained. ...But the biggest schism highlighted in the past week is between "the intermittents" (the wind industry) and the "baseload" renewables (most of the rest).
An almost two-year fee-free period for wind farm development will not be long enough for NSW to catch up to other states, the Greens say.
Premier Nathan Rees has announced incentives to boost investment in clean energy generation, including moves to fast track planning decisions relating to wind farms.
The development fees that are associated with such projects will also be waived until June 30, 2011.
The group behind what is said to be Australia's first community-owned wind farm says the global financial crisis has affected fundraising for the project.
Hepburn Wind wants to build two turbines at Leonard's Hill near Daylesford.
It has spent the past three months trying to raise $5 million from investors, but it has only received share applications worth $2 million.
West Wind at Makara is seen as one of the best sites in the world, with turbines expected to run 50 per cent of the time.
In comparison, Contact's Waikato project is seen as "a very good class 2 site, verging on class 1", Contact said.
However, other power industry sources question the economics of Contact's Waikato wind farm project, saying others had considered and rejected the same area in the past.
"It is questionable whether it is a good site," a source said.
It was seen as a "marginal" site and worse than others in the area.
"Who knows if they will ever build it?" the source said.
Australia's prime minister, facing a tough re-election fight and under pressure over his climate credentials, has pledged new "clean energy" targets in a move environment groups said would not sway green-leaning voters.
By 2020, John Howard said, 15 percent of Australia's energy would come from "clean" sources including solar, wind, nuclear or clean coal, reversing his coalition government's previous reluctance to lift its renewable energy target from 2 percent.
The promise also dropped "renewable" from the government's agenda, paving the way for a controversial switch to nuclear energy, backed by Howard as a greenhouse-friendly alternative.
Windfall profits are on the way for power companies already flush with cash, experts say, as consumers bear the brunt of higher power prices from plans to penalise carbon emissions.
The perverse outcome is a result of the electricity market delivering consumers the most expensive power available to meet demand, not the cheapest. ...Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said he was concerned Meridian was now saying its Makara windfarm project was only marginally viable.
"You get the impression they are calculating how much they are going to try to get out of the system to make the project pay for itself," he said.
THE nation's carbon offset industry is booming. ... Total Environment Centre spokeswoman Jane Castle said a stricter accreditation system was required to regulate the burgeoning sector.
Tree planting was regarded as one of the least reliable methods, she said.
"A lot [of companies] are selling trees without accreditation. Their claims of carbon neutrality are not accredited or monitored," she said.
"It's very anarchic at the moment. There are many companies making a lot of money. Purchasing offsets should be the last resort if people and companies want to reduce emissions."
Australian Consumers' Association spokeswoman Ria Voorhaar said the carbon offsetting industry must be better regulated.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie today launched a $414 million climate change strategy to address what he called one of the "greatest challenges" facing the state.
The new funding brings the total contribution to climate change initiatives to $1.3 billion, and proposes a number of key initiatives for business, industry and community through the ClimateSmart 2050 plan.
One of the key components is the plan to increase the percentage of gas energy generation from the current 13 per cent to 18 per cent by 2020.
He said using natural gas to generate power produces 50 per cent fewer emissions than coal.
"Prime Minister, when will the government seriously examine renewable energy and substantially increase the mandatory renewable energy target?" Mr Danby asked.
But Mr Howard said he understood the eight Labor state and territory governments were planning to scrap MRET altogether.
"I have been told in briefing sessions from officials representing the eight Labor state and territory jurisdictions of Australia that, in advocating the national emissions trading scheme which the eight Labor states and territories want, part of the package is a phase-out of mandatory renewable energy targets because they are incompatible with the notion of a national emissions trading scheme," Mr Howard told parliament.
Later, he read from photocopies of a slide presentation of a March 21 briefing from state officials given to his task group on emissions trading.
Waikato investors in wind-turbine projects say they are waiting on a proposed carbon credit scheme to make renewable energy affordable in the region.
Wel Network chief executive Kevin Palmer said without carbon credits, the company's $200 million 84MW wind farm at Te Uku, near Raglan, was "less likely to go ahead".
Mr Palmer said the Government's national energy strategy, which is open for public consultation until Friday, would determine the short-term future of wind energy in the Waikato.
Policymakers have settled on 'emissions trading' as their favorite global-warming fix. But it isn't working.
March 12, 2007 issue - Global warming isn't the only debate that may be over. Governments and policymakers around the world also seem to have settled on a solution. "A responsible approach to solving this crisis," Al Gore said recently at New York University's Law School, would be "to authorize the trading of emissions ... globally." Emissions trading, also called carbon trading, is being expanded in the European Union and Japan. And in many places where it's yet to take hold, like Sacramento, Sydney and Beijing, politicians are embracing it. Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank and Europe's foremost political expert on global warming, predicts that the value of carbon credits in circulation, now about $28 billion, will climb to $40 billion by 2010.
This should be great news for the environment, but many experts have their doubts. The notion that emissions trading is going to make a significant dent in global warming is deeply flawed, they say. Current emissions-trading schemes have proved to be little more than a shell game, allowing polluters in the developed world to shift the burden of making cuts onto factories in the developing world.
Babcock and Brown Wind Partners says it is poised to further invest in the south-east, but its waiting for a carbon trading scheme.
The company says that once the federal or State Government indicate carbon trading will occur, it will find investors.
Acting chief executive Miles George says it continues to monitor the south-east and other locations across Australia for future wind farms.
But Mr George says a carbon trading system at any level of government is needed.
“If the intension is to provide a pricing signal, which is sufficient to allow competitive renewable energy technologies to be developed, then wind is the largest scale and most competitive renewable energy source, so it’s likely that further wind projects could be developed,” he said.
The Victorian Government is in secret talks with New South Wales to extend its compulsory clean energy scheme beyond state boundaries.
The Government confirmed yesterday it was negotiating with NSW for the two states to buy and sell renewable power to help meet mandatory targets for clean energy use.
But it has denied it is in talks with the Tasmanian Government for a similar deal, despite claims from a Tasmanian wind farm proponent that trade talks are under way.