16 April 2024

Government intervention to energise green tech is welcome

| Ian Bushnell
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A large-scale solar farm – Aussie tech we now import. Photo: Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

In the dry economic gulch that successive governments have camped the country in, picking winners is howled down as a recipe for wasting vast amounts of taxpayers’ money.

That’s been part of the typical orthodox response to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s interventionist approach to turbo-charging the energy transition.

The PM has flagged that the government will actively support the development of clean energy technologies – solar, batteries, green hydrogen and green metals – and their retention within Australia under a new Future Made in Australia Act.

It’s a response to what has already been happening overseas, particularly in the US under the Biden Administration, but also in Europe and South Korea.

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If Australia did not do likewise, capital and expertise would be sucked away from Australia and the country left in their wake, putting into doubt the ability to leave fossil fuels behind and become the green energy superpower many have talked about.

Leaving it to the market may suit the purists, but the reality is Australia would not be on any kind of level playing field and incapable of competing.

It does play into traditional Labor hopes of reviving a manufacturing industry that some say is a pipe dream, but the government’s view is that new tech, including robotics, will make it a viable proposition.

Realising the attacks on what may be seen as a regressive policy, Albanese says he is not embracing protectionism or abandoning open and free markets but adjusting to a new reality and in the national interest, citing the risk in relying on trading partners (read China) in an uncertain world.

We’ll learn more in the May Budget, but the PM is talking about a coordinated package of existing and new measures and incentives to drive Australian industry, particularly green energy, and give it “sharper elbows” in this new competitive environment.

The Opposition response has been predictable, but it was happy to funnel plenty of taxpayer dollars into carbon capture projects that would keep fossil fuels in use despite their continuing lack of success.

Labor has also had to wear criticism that the country was not making the energy transition fast enough to keep the lights on as coal plants closed, or doing enough to meet its 2030 emission reduction targets.

There has also been a falloff in renewable energy projects and spending.

The new approach should be the reboot required to accelerate the transition, incubate innovation and keep it here in Australia.

Australia has been good at inventing things but terrible at commercialising them. The now ubiquitous rooftop solar panel was pioneered at UNSW, but much of that expertise went to China and the rest is history.

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But while there will be much debate among economists about whether a more activist government approach is the right one, it’s worth remembering why the world needs to switch to clean energy.

This month it has been reported that the global surface and ocean temperatures continue to rise, presaging the kind of supercharged climate change that threatens the viability of the planet we all call home.

The energy transition is not some academic or economic exercise but an act of survival.

It’s not something that can be left entirely to the “invisible hand”.

Yes, the government will need to be strategic, savvy and discerning, but the PM is right to seize the initiative, and many in industry and science will welcome the certainty and direction it brings.

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The best thing we can hope for is to get rid of Albanese. All he’s ever done is go to meetings. He has zero business experience and is by far the most useless PM our country has ever had the misfortune of having.

Clearly, with Australia’s wages, doing this will cost a bomb and that will fall back on the tax payers.

Clearly, other taxes, direct or indirect, will be coming in the future, and it’s just as good to say they’ll be hefty than to say they’ll be the opposite.

Clearly, this whole popular climate narrative thing is connected to the massive rise in the cost of living, and it’s just as good to say that it’ll get even worse than it is to say the opposite. This says nothing about other factors behind the increased cost of living.

Clearly, a net-zero/zero growth economy is on the agenda.

On the basis of the clear indications above, I believe it’s reasonable to say that life in Australia could one day become unaffordable, requiring something like a 100% tax on all Australians who’d then be ‘compensated’ by a universal basic income and other government ‘hand me outs’ – which they’ll have to bend right over for and spread before they get them.

Nothing here is controversial or unreasonable, but is supported by the facts and what can logically follows. For some, simply start by looking up official U.N and WEF sources and the like on Agenda 2030, tax and universal basic incomes. That these sources of course don’t come straight out and tell anyone that they’re on the verge of getting seriously punked, is an open that I’m willing to leave for now

@Vasily M
If nothing else, your posts are entertaining for their comic relief and providing a timeout from reality.

Stephen Saunders11:39 am 15 Apr 24

Australia already costly industry policies – resources giveaways, population replacement, export education, and real estate incentives.

I’m not sure that we can afford these woke (Ross Garnaut) policies for “global energy superpower” and “net zero economy” on top of that.

Capital Retro10:07 am 15 Apr 24

“solar, batteries, green hydrogen and green metals”

Solar development has peaked and it doesn’t work when the sun isn’t shining. Home solar is only a marginal investment for house owners and they have to be at home in daylight hours to capture that benefit.
Excess solar power at high availability times is causing massive problems with a grid that was designed for something else that made Australia great.

Batteries are dangerous.

Green hydrogen energy is unproven and has storage and distribution problems to solve. It was still a “colourless gas” when I studied chemistry at school.

Green metals is something I have heard nothing about but Australia will not be mining any ore soon under the Labor/Green vision so it doesn’t really matter what it is.

@Capital Retro
“… house owners and they have to be at home in daylight hours to capture that benefit”
Obviously, being a technological luddite, you would not understand the concept of programmable devices, but many solar users are able to activate their washing machine, dishwasher and other energy intensive devices to operate during the day, either through a timer or mobile phone app.

“Batteries are dangerous.”
Do you use a mobile phone, CR?

“It was still a “colourless gas” when I studied chemistry at school.”
So what? That just proves how long it is since you attended school – and that’s informative, because ….?

Pooh pooh the technology all you like, CR. Nevertheless, R & D is delivering improvements because it’s the way of the future.

“Leaving it to the market may suit the purists, but the reality is Australia would not be on any kind of level playing field and incapable of competing.”

We will NEVER be even remotely competitive in a free market and this will end in nothing but throwing tax payer dollars in the fire.

A perfect example of this is Sunpower panels; They are the highest efficiency and have a 40 year warranty with efficiency guarantees. They are the best panels on the market but they sell (comparatively) few of them. The reason why are they are about 50% more expensive than even other good quality solar panels.

These Australian panels will not be as good as we simply don’t have the industrial capacity or expertise and they will likely be even MORE expensive. Why on earth would anyone buy them? You have other companies/countries that have literally decades of a head start on us and we are going to overcome that how exactly?

Did we not learn any lessons at all from the many billions of dollars of taxpayer money that were thrown at the automotive industry in this country?

There is one word for this proposal: Idiocy.

Ian Bushnell makes the moral case for plundering tax revenue on behalf of a powerful lobby group.

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