24 June 2015, Renew Economy, Senate passes RET bill, cut to wind farms becomes law: Australia on Tuesday became the first developed country to cut its renewable energy target – adding to its honour of being the first to dismantle a carbon price – when the Senate passed legislation reducing the large scale target from 41,000GWh to 33,000GWh by 2020. The new bill will cut new investment in renewables by around $5 billion, just as the world accelerates its investment in wind farms, with more than $US3.7 trillion to be spent on solar alone in the next two decades, and $US8 trillion overall, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The legislation, which also allows native wood waste to be burned and included in the target, and introduces a “wind commissioner” to deal with complaints from nearby residents, will likely cause a huge scramble as projects stalled in the investment drought over the past two years seek off-take agreements and financing. While both the government and the Opposition – and some industry groups – hailed the passage of the bill as providing “certainty” – it is only a thin veneer.
Labor environment spokesman Mark Butler baited the government saying that it was “bad news for Tony Abbott” because it meant “those wind farms he finds so utterly offensive can start being built again, despite his best efforts to drive them from our shores.” The reality is that while the Coalition government has pledge no further review until 2020, it is just one vote short in the Senate from doing what it likes. With an election possible soon, and Labor struggling in the polls, that certainty may be short-lived. Abbott has made clear he would stop new wind farms if he could. Read more here