What he got wrong
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today claimed in his Press Club speech that renewable energy damages jobs and increases electricity prices. Both these claims are false.
“Renewable energy creates jobs, including plant development, construction and operation, producing and installing solar panels,” said Amanda McKenzie, CEO of the Climate Council.
McKenzie cites detailed modelling from Ernst and Young in 2016 showed that 50% renewable electricity by 2030 would create more than 28,000 net jobs nation-wide.
In Queensland independent economic research has shown that the 50% state renewable target would generate 6,000 more jobs per year up to 2030.
“There are now more jobs in renewable energy than in coal in Australia. World-wide there are now more than 8 million people employed in the sector.”
Ms McKenzie said network charges and expensive fuels like gas were being passed onto households and business.
“Electricity prices have risen for households. The main cause has been network investments, retail charges and in some places, the increasing price of gas.”
“Renewable energy is unfairly scapegoated. Renewable energy has already reduced the wholesale cost of power and homeowners are controlling their energy bills by installing solar on their homes. The blame for higher energy costs should be levelled at energy companies.”
Turnbull also suggested increasing gas would be an important future energy source.
“Gas is becoming more and more expensive. It is also a fossil fuel like coal producing significant greenhouse gas emissions when burnt. Turnbull will not be able to make energy cheaper and reduce emissions by investing in more gas.”
What he got right
“What Turnbull got right was his 3 principles for the Australian energy system of the 21st century. It must be clean, affordable and reliable. However, unfortunately Prime Minister Turnbull has yet to offer a concrete plan. Currently there is no national plan on energy and State government’s have been taking up the slack.”
Turnbull also acknowledged the rapid reduction in he price of renewables and the critical importance of energy storage.
“The reality is that our energy system is ageing, polluting and inefficient. There will need to be investment in new power plants. Building any new power plant will have costs. Renewable energy is now cheaper to build than new coal plants and has no fuel costs – because the sun and the wind are free.”
“Turnbull’s statement that storage is a big missing piece from the Australian energy mix is absolutely right. Ensuring supply requires building more power stations, storage and improving the nature of the grid.”
“More than eight million people are employed globally in the renewable energy industry, jobs are booming globally. Australia can ride this wave too, however, it requires clear federal policy.”
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