Alarm as Abbott threatens anti-renewables appointment in Australia

The renewable energy industry in Australia is upset at the potential appointment of a firm adversary to renewable power to a new panel, which focuses on reviewing the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Sources close to the Tony Abbott-led Australian government say Alan Moran, described in RenewEconomy website as ‘an anti-renewable zealot from the Institute of Public Affairs’, is to be appointed to a new panel that will review the target policy.
Tony Abbott
According to the sources, Moran will be one of three or four business people appointed to an independent panel that will get secretarial support from the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – “rather than the department of Environment, or the department of Industry, which includes Energy.”

Mr Moran is closely aligned with the conservative hard right who neither accept the science of climate change, nor the attraction of renewable energy.

While the appointment is yet unconfirmed, it would not be perceived as good news for the renewables sector, already on the backfoot due to policy uncertainty.

Dilution or complete removal of the RET are seen as distinct possibilities and the Abbott government is insisting on another review of the supposed health impacts of wind farms, despite not releasing a report from its main medical body, and there is also talk that the government support for rooftop solar will also be removed.

Moran, who is the head of the IPA’s deregulation unit, last year was one of the main speakers at an anti-wind rally in Canberra, which described the RET as a fraud.

He described wind and solar as costly and “low quality”, said their costs were amplified by the need for back up in terms of fast-start conventional businesses, and were “imposing a huge burden on consumers and businesses.”

“The Government is committed to the RET and our policy has not changed,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement. The Government will not pre-empt the RET review.  It will be undertaken in a thorough and consultative way giving the opportunity for the public to provide feedback.”

Despite Mr Moran’s claims, RenewEconomy reports that South Australia now has more than 31 per cent of its demand sourced from wind and solar, without the need for new back-up generation. The state’s wholesale cost of electricity and emissions profile have fallen sharply.

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