Australian Energy Minister Martin Ferguson Winks – Clean Energy Will Cost More For Less

Posted on Fri 11/09/2012 by


By Andrew Bolt ~

Australian Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson

The White Paper on Energy delivered yesterday by Australian Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson still kowtows to the green movement in way that should embarrass him.

– Ferguson still maintains we need “clean energy” for a probably non-solution to a possible non-problem of global warming.

– He is still forced to commit to the Greens $10 billion clean energy fund, a winner-picking cash splash unnecessary under a carbon tax and certain to waste billions of taxpayers dollars.

– He still gives support, albeit heavily qualified, to the fiction of Treasury forecasts on “clean energy generation” based in large part on the two unproven and now troubled technologies of geothermal and carbon capture: “By 2050, most of Australia’s conventional fossil fuel power
generation is likely to have been replaced with clean energy technologies in the form of wind power; utility-scale and distributed solar power; geothermal energy; and coal- and gas-based carbon capture and storage systems.”

– He still is forced to note his Government opposes nuclear, a far cheaper and more reliable supply of “clean energy” than wind or solar.

– He insists the Government will not go so green as to hurt consumers, while doing just that.

– He still commits to throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at the trying to make carbon capture work.

It’s a intellectual crime to concede so much to unreason, but Ferguson still sneaks in plenty to frustrate green campaigners.

– Ferguson’s White Paper confronts – albeit too gently for me – the Left’s religious hatred of nuclear:

AUSTRALIA may have to decide whether to proceed with nuclear power by the end of the decade …if new low-emissions baseload energy technology cannot be commercialised in time to meet emissions reduction targets. Given the long lead times, this would force Australia to make a choice on nuclear energy by late this decade, the paper says.

– It suggests Treasury forecasts of green energy by 2050 may be more a dream than a protection and will cost a bomb:

Based on the recent Australian Energy Technology Assessment mid-point technology cost estimates, this suggests that clean energy technologies could provide around 40% of Australia’s electricity generation by 2035 and up to 85% (or 305 TWh) by 2050, when fossil-fuel-fired generation with carbon capture and storage (CCS) would contribute 29%, large-scale solar 16%, wind energy and household solar photovoltaic (solar PV) 13% each, geothermal energy 9%, and hydroelectricity and bioelectricity 5%.
While these long-term estimates are heavily qualified and should be treated more as illustrations than predictions, they point to an enormous long-term change.

This ambitious transformation will be achieved from a currently modest but growing clean energy base… The transformation may require more than $200 billion in new generation investment between now and 2050.

– It warns that geothermal, the green power touted by investor Tim Flannery, the Climate Commissioner, has questions marks over it:

To put this into context, we may need an additional 286 TWh of new clean energy capacity by 2050, but no significant Australian CCS, large-scale solar, ocean or geothermal generation systems are in operation today.

– It warns that carbon capture and storage (catching the gases of coal-fired plants and burying them) isn’t quite going to plan, either, and failure will cost plenty:

Despite slow progress to date, commercialising CCS remains critically important to meeting long?term global emissions reduction goals..  Abandoning CCS as a mitigation option now would significantly increase the cost of achieving emissions reductions to limit average global temperature increases to 2°C.

– It rejects the Greens’ myth that the government subsidises fossil fuel production.

A number of these claims relate to the existence of various business tax deductions or specific tax treatments for activities associated with energy resource development or production. The Australian government notes that the ability to deduct business expenses does not in itself constitute a subsidy.

– Ferguson in his speech yesterday emphasised that green power would cost extra:

Domestically, we are facing pressure to move to cleaner fuel sources and at the same time the cost of delivering this energy is increasing.

– He declared he didn’t want green power to price us out of business:

And lastly, an Australia that transitions to cleaner forms of energy over time in a way that does not impede our economic competitiveness.

– He warned even more strongly than does the White Paper itself that the green power targets may be unrealisable:

Modelling within the Energy White Paper shows that, while fossil fuels will underpin our energy security for many years to come, clean energy generation could grow to provide over 40 per cent of our electricity needs by 2035 and potentially up to 85 per cent by 2050… But these results are far from guaranteed, and a range of technologies included in the projected energy mix are yet to become commercially available.

I guess Ferguson has done as best he case in a government let by politicians determined to exploit the great green scare and desperate to keep Greens support.

But reading between the lines of his White Paper, the warning is clear. This “clean energy future” is going to cost more than you thought and deliver less than was promised. Indeed, it may fail so completely that nuclear power may be the climate change scoundrels’ last hope.


Nationals Party Senator Ron Boswell says what Ferguson dares not:

If the government were serious about easing energy price pressures, it would do better to address the cost impact of the carbon tax and the renewable energy target.

The carbon tax is placing an $8 billion a year burden on Australia and must be abolished. Not far behind is the RET, which Labor’s chief whip Joel Fitzgibbon rightly has questioned…

Modelling done for NSW’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, the Climate Change Authority and other bodies all show that households would save about $270 a year with the RET and carbon tax gone…

Renewable energy is an expensive and ineffective way of reducing carbon emissions. The Productivity Commission estimates abatement costs to be $473 to $1043 a carbon tonne for solar technologies and $60 a carbon tonne for wind. The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that wind-powered electricity costs $150 to $214 a megawatt hour and solar photovoltaic systems cost $400 to $473/MWh compared with coal-fired electricity, which costs just $78 to $91/MWh.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

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