Where is the energy plan?

Energy prices are becoming a huge burden on farm businesses.

AS FARMERS responded to the federal government's budget this week, news also surfaced that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) would be cut.

The institution was originally established to make energy more affordable, while also increasing the amount of renewable energy used in Australia.

ARENA's current contracted R&D projects will be maintained, but the government said its functions will be shifted to the Department of Industry - along with $15 million to fund new projects in 2015-16.

It is one of many research institutions to be cut or merged in the budget.

Combined with the fact that the federal government is reviewing the Renewable Energy Target of 20 per cent by 2020, it sounds out a clear message the Coalition is not willing to strongly back renewable energy in Australia.

While the Direct Action Plan is gearing up to pay companies to reduce greenhouse gases, there is now very little incentive for Australia to work collectively in implementing a common-sense approach to energy in Australia.

The Ag Institute of Australia held a forum on energy last week, which explored alternative energy sources and ways to ease electricity prices.

Victorian president Michael Graefe said the group held the forum partly because it wanted to start a debate on this topic, but he also said energy prices were becoming a huge burden on farm businesses.

He said the government needed to take a more balanced approach to energy in Australia, with a bigger emphasis on cost-effectively storing energy from sources such as solar.

In particular, he was very excited about the prospects of geothermal power, where energy is sourced from the ground or bodies of water.

But at the moment, the government is sending a message fossil fuels will continue to provide the bulk of electricity for the country, and limited research will be carried out to change this fact.

With the climate changing, it is becoming more apparent that Australia needs to get on the front foot in terms of reducing greenhouse gases, before it is too late.

A plan on how renewable energy is expected to fit into Australia's future would be a good start in addressing this issue, but at the moment this isn't happening.

Maybe the government should take advice from Germany, where it was revealed this week 75 per cent of the country's power was now being sourced from renewable sources - and power prices had been reduced as a result.

Louise Preece

Louise Preece

is a journalist for Stock & Land
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


15/05/2014 5:47:00 PM

If renewable energy is cheaper than coal, why is it that our electricity prices have been lifted to pay huge subsidies to solar and wind power developers and operators? The Gillard Govt has locked us into contracts and subsidies paid to those erecting wind turbines of $400k per tower for 25 - 75 years. That is up to $30m for each wind turbine. If the power from wind was cheaper than coal, they would need no subsidy. It has been proven over and over that our cheapest power comes from coal. Cut all subsidies to power generators and make them stand on their own. Had a gutful of the subsidies.
leon tanner
15/05/2014 5:51:23 PM

The Plan, Ms Preece, should be to cut out all subsidies to green power schemes and our energy production and delivery costs will fall immediately. I suspect the green energy schemes will fall too as they are only surviving on grants and subsidies. That is a total disgrace.
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