Home » Australia News Live: Renewables Investment At Record Low; Dark Web Blog Where Medibank Hackers Posted Back Online

Australia News Live: Renewables Investment At Record Low; Dark Web Blog Where Medibank Hackers Posted Back Online

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Renewables investment at a record low when we need to hit new highs

Peter Hannam

For all the talk of the decarbonising the electricity sector, the fact is investment in new projects is withering, if the latest stats from the Clean Energy Council are any guide.

In the September quarter, just one large-scale project reached financial closure (ie final commitment from a company) with just 127MW of capacity. (By contrast, AGL yesterday said it would close its remaining three units at its Torrens Island “B” gas plant in June 2026, with their 600MW.)

On the slide: financial commitments for new renewable energy projects hit a record low in the September quarter. Not the race pace we want to see. (Source: Clean Energy Council.) pic.twitter.com/E7c4VTCH7y

— @[email protected] (@p_hannam) November 24, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/p_hannam/status/1595912251646496768?s=20&t=IEv5JyXyXlFVWmRfBJM3dQ”,”id”:”1595912251646496768″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”4e7c86ee-a62c-4594-acce-1662aef2e45e”}}”>

On the slide: financial commitments for new renewable energy projects hit a record low in the September quarter. Not the race pace we want to see. (Source: Clean Energy Council.) pic.twitter.com/E7c4VTCH7y

— @[email protected] (@p_hannam) November 24, 2022

Kane Thornton, the CEC’s CEO, said the group’s latest report made “abundantly clear that Australia’s clean energy transition has been throttled by years of policy uncertainty.”

The investment drought on big solar and wind reminded me of this report we filed in April, that highlighted the slowdown in investment:

It was notable at the time because the Morrison government had been talking up Australia’s clean energy sector, with the highest penetration of rooftop solar in the world, etc etc.

As the article noted, a spokesperson for then energy minister Angus Taylor (now the shadow treasurer), dismissed the CEC’s concerns saying it had been forecasting a collapse in renewable energy investment for years.

The spokesperson said:

Australians continue to prove the Clean Energy Council wrong. The fact is, there’s been more than $40bn of investment in renewables in Australia since 2017.

Well, the $40bn figure might have been right but it’s slowed to a trickle in recent years. The main positive is the jump in new storage projects, with 14 new projects worth more than $2bn committed in the last 12 months.

The rolling 12-month average is at a record 1984MWh of large-scale storage projects, or almost a four-fold rise from a year earlier.

Also on the positive side of the ledger are promises by the Labor governments in Victoria and Queensland promising big expansions of their renewable generation and storage in recent months. (We’ll find out on Saturday whether the Andrews government will be returned. The whisper is that Labor expects to retain majority rule. Let’s see…)

Thornton, meanwhile, reckons investment confidence is returning, “aided by clearer and more potent policy directions across the country”.

But the trend needs to accelerate, and getting more projects through the various state planning systems faster would be one way, he says.

Federal energy minister Chris Bowen has been reported as saying we need to add 22,000 500w solar panels a day and 407MW wind turbines each month up to 2030 to meet the decarbonising goals.

Given the pace of new projects being signed up, those big numbers are presumably getting larger each day.

A Queensland court has found that the plans of a company owned by Clive Palmer to dig what would be Australia’s largest thermal coalmine in central Queensland infringe upon the human rights of future generations, in a landmark climate case.

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Queensland land court president, Fleur Kingham, said the case was not about whether any new coalmine should be approved, but “whether this coalmine should be approved on its merits”.

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She said this morning:

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This coal is a public resource owned by the state to be exploited, or not, for the public good.

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Climate change was a key issue in this hearing.

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Kingham said her decision was a recommendation, but that the mine’s approval was ultimately a matter for the Queensland resources minister and the environment department.

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Albanese:

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What we now know from this report today … is that Scott Morrison also sought advice at the same time on being appointed to minister of the department of agriculture, water and the environment, that [he] ultimately decided not to proceed [with].

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The prime minister Anthony Albanese’s office has released a statement welcoming the final report from the Bell inquiry, handed down today by the Hon Justice Virginia Bell.

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The unprecedented and inexcusable actions of the former Prime Minister were emblematic of the culture of secrecy in which the previous Government operated.

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The Bell Inquiry confirms the Solicitor-General’s conclusion that the principles of responsible government were “fundamentally undermined” because Mr Morrison was not “responsible” to the Parliament, and through the Parliament to the electors, for the departments he was appointed to administer.

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Justice Bell found the secrecy around the appointments was “apt to undermine public confidence in government” and was “corrosive of trust in government.”

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The inquiry has made six recommendations to improve transparency, accountability and restore public trust in Australian democracy, including:

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  • Legislation to require public notice of the appointment of ministers to administer departments and hold offices;

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  • The publication of acting arrangements for ministers; and

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  • The publication of details of which ministers are appointed to administer departments and an outline of divisions of responsibilities where more than one minister is appointed to the same department.

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Albanese said:

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I will recommend to the next meeting of Cabinet that the Albanese Government accept all six of Justice Bell’s recommendations.

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The quick implementation of these recommendations will ensure that the Australian public can have full confidence that this breach of trust will never happen again.

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I thank Justice Bell and her team for the efforts in conducting this Inquiry.

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Bell writes in the “implications of the appointments” section of her report:

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The lack of disclosure of the appointments to the public was apt to undermine public confidence in government. Once the appointments became known