The Coalition government has tried to sell several national energy policies to parliament and to the public, and all have failed.
We need a new national policy because the system we have is outdated and highly polluting, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s latest Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, is offering another born-to-fail system called a ‘National Energy Guarantee’.
There are many ways to generate steady electrical supply, but Turnbull likes to stick to simple arguments because he believes us voters are simple-minded.
The NEG sets some goals, offers some incentives and penalties, but fails for the same reasons previous business-led plans did. For starters, its target is to have 28-36% renewable energy by the year 2030 — which is a lower proportion of renewables than we’re likely to get if the federal government did nothing according to environmentvictoria.org.au
This organisation of 40 community-oriented groups has been advocating for a decent environment for 49 years. Its modest graph lists the options:
What Frydenberg and Turnbull have come up with is an energy policy that their most backward coalition parliamentarians, led by backstabbing backbencher Tony Abbott, will vote for — and that big energy corps will give the thumbs up to.
What else does the NEG do? It will allow coal-burning plants to keep on burning, because the formerly-climate-change-aware Turnbull says they provide ‘flexible and dispatchable generation’.
Dispatchable means you can turn them on/off/up/down like a dimmer switch, unlike solar which only works when the sun’s shining. In fact, there are many ways to generate steady electrical supply, but Turnbull likes to stick to simple arguments because he believes us voters are simple-minded. (And haven’t we learned over his three years as PM that he is himself, simple-minded?)
Furthermore, says Frydenberg, the NEG “gives coal a very good chance of extending its existing life”.
It’s true that to figure out how to make energy for all our needs, from smelting aluminium to recharging toothbrushes, at a sensible price, is complex, but the Coalition makes it more complex because their goal is to maintain the existing semi-monopoly of their big and powerful corporate mates, while also maintaining the myth that the world isn’t getting hotter because of all the coal and oil were burning, and that climate change isn’t going to destroy much, if not all, human habitat.
Origin Energy, AGL and EnergyAustralia — the Big Three of electricity — control 48 percent of Australia’s electrical generation and 70 percent of the retail market.
The NEG requires electricity makers and marketers to sign long-term contracts, quickly, with conditions which the Big Three can most easily meet. Thus, they will control even higher percentages of the market, while smaller and more innovative corps, such as those who understand how decentralised and renewable power systems work for all of us, will be made smaller. That’s another goal of this NEG scam.
Private enterprise doesn’t own the sun.
Another small scam within the overall scam is that the Big Three can also delay reducing their carbon emissions here by buying carbon credits overseas. Then they can keep burning our abundant fossil fuels and carbon-loading our air while Turnbull and Co. also try to stop state governments expanding renewable energy and reducing greenhouse pollution.
Why are the big business-loving pollies so determined, and frenzied? Because for these blokes, solar and wind and all those other renewables, are for sissies really — and underneath that is the fundamental problem that socially-inclined people have understood for many decades: private enterprise doesn’t own the sun.
Meanwhile, the Victorian and Queensland state governments, both run by the socially-inclined Labor Party and utzed along by the Greens, are implementing energy systems recommended by Australia’s chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel. These plans, unlike Turnbull’s all-power- to- the-businessmen NEG plan, have well-researched business models showing how they will lower our energy bills, which the NEG says it will, but won’t.
Image from John Olsen: The You Beaut Country at the NGV and AGNSW 2016-2017