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No Rest for Australia

Seven Prime Ministers in 11 years, that's quite a record in Down Under. Just as men and women at the top of the country change frequently, energy and environmental policy in Australia is changing all the time - a permanent struggle for stability for the expansion of renewables and compliance with climate protection targets.

Parliament in Canberra, the Australian government (Image: Pixabay)Parliament in Canberra, the Australian government (Image: Pixabay)

Since last Friday, Australia has had a new Prime Minister in Scott Morrison - the seventh since 2007 - and once again the cabinet and thus policy is expected to change.

Good conditions for a stable, long-term energy policy? No, not really. Australia still gets 80 percent of its energy from coal-fired power plants, even though renewable energies have seen a remarkable rise in recent years. However, it's not the government in Canberra that is responsible for this, but the federal states and territories that have set their own climate protection goals.

And they can count on little support from the government in the future, because the new prime minister was responsible for two drumbeats when his ministers were appointed: On the one hand, he finished the experiment of merging the ministries of energy and environment. On the other, he appointed Angus Taylor, a prominent wind energy critic, as the new Energy Minister, while Melissa Price, a former lawyer for mining companies, takes over the post of Environment Minister. This should put all attempts to reduce emissions in the energy sector on hold.

Taylor in particular stood out in the past as a tough wind energy critic, as RenewEconomy reports. He has been fighting wind farms near his family estate for years and in 2013 spoke at an event called 'Wind Power Fraud Rally' organised by the anti-wind site 'Stop These Things'. Wind power opponents celebrate him as the 'worst nightmare of the wind industry'.

In the past, new Environment Minister Price has also been more of an opponent of renewable energies. She comes from a coal town and started working as a lawyer for various coal companies.

Despite all the political cross-cuts, however, the federal states in Australia have begun on their own initiative to convert their energy supply and greatly expand the renewable energy sector. Queensland and the Northern Territory, for example, have set the target of a 50 percent energy supply from renewables by 2030.

The new government will not be able to stop this development. Spark Infrastructure, a company investing in energy infrastructure projects, announced on Monday its outlook for Australia's energy landscape of tomorrow: "Australia’s energy future is being defined by a new world of opportunities in renewables, distributed generation and energy storage. Our networks will have an important role to play in delivering these technologies efficiently for the benefit of consumers."

Tesla battery storage in Australia (Image: Tesla)

And that's where the biggest money is played. This is currently particularly the case in the field of renewables. The world's largest energy storage facility was built in South Australia by Tesla last year - in the record time of only 100 days. A second super storage facility is currently being built in the neighbouring state of Victoria, which is actually one of the classic coal-mining regions. The storage facility will amongst others be linked to a wind farm and will prevent future power outages, which have traditionally been a major problem in Australia.

Ultimately, people are likely not to care too much who is in the government in Canberra - as long as there's electricity coming from their sockets.

Katrin Radtke
Australia, Spark Infracstructure, government, prime minister, energy policy, renewables, coal, anti wind, lobbyist

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