‘Valley of death’: Greens warn of coalition’s renewables policy

Renewable energy will face another “valley of death” under the policy the major parties are likely to adopt to encourage a cleaner power sector.


The Greens energy spokesman Adam Bandt warns adopting a clean energy target – as recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s review of the electricity market – could leave proposed new renewable projects in limbo for up to five years.

The Turnbull government is yet to formally adopt a clean energy target as policy or decide what form it would take amid internal unrest from coalition MPs concerned about ensuring a continued role for coal.

Any clean energy target is not expected to start until 2020, when the existing renewable energy target is set to end.

Mr Bandt says switching from one to the other with no overlap could put the brakes on renewable energy projects.

He’s urging Labor not to sign onto a clean energy target that gives any incentives to coal power just for the sake of “artificial bipartisanship”.

Instead, he wants the opposition to hold out until the next federal election, which Labor could win, and then put in place a more robust policy.

“Labor should not be dragged into the morass of the Liberal party room and their coal obsession,” Mr Bandt will tell parliament on Monday.

Business and the energy sector has been crying out for politicians to put aside their squabbles and adopt a bipartisan policy – whether for the clean energy target or an emissions intensity scheme – so they have the certainty to start investing in new generators.

The 2016 federal election was the first since 2004 where Australia had the same energy policy before the poll as after.

Investment in renewables plummeted for several years amid political uncertainty around the RET, until the Abbott government cut it but set its level.

Mr Bandt now wants parliament to extend the RET for another decade.

“If Labor and Liberal agree on a clean energy target that includes coal but don’t include any mechanism to start closing coal-fired generators, it may well create a short-term ‘valley of death’ for renewables,” he will tell parliament on Monday.

“There will be at least three years during which a paltry target will be in place, new coal will be incentivised and new renewables placed at a further disadvantage.”