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McArdle 'plain wrong' on energy says Howard adviser

Clean, green energy from the sun.
Clean, green energy from the sun.

THE architect of the Howard Government's Renewable Energy Target has dismissed as just plain wrong claims by Queensland Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle that it was a handbrake on the Australian economy.

Stephen Bygrave, now head of Beyond Zero Emissions, said Mr McArdle was also wrong in his claims that the contribution of renewable energy during the recent Victorian heatwave was very unreliable.

Mr McArdle yesterday issued a press release claiming the days of Queenslanders subsidising energy sources that "were not commercially viable" should be declared over by an Abbott Government panel that will review the Renewable Energy Target.

It was seen as a direct assault on renewable energy strategies of successive past federal governments.

Just under 28% of all homes in his Caloundra electorate have solar panels on their roofs, the highest rate of take up in the state and one of the highest in Australia.

"Unfortunately the RET is increasing Queenslanders electricity bills by $81.24 per year," Mr McArdle said.

"This is an unnecessary addition to the cost of living and along with the solar bonus scheme will increase bills by $276 this year.

"As part of the Newman Governments plan to grow our four pillar economy as promised at the election, we are embarking on the biggest reforms to the electricity system in a decade.

"Yet the RET and carbon tax remain as a handbrake on economic growth and a hindrance to long term reform."

Mr Bygrave said contrary to Mr McArdle's claims solar PV had reduced peak demand by 4.6% in Victoria staving off the need for high-cost generation from oil, gas and diesel systems.

As a consequence each megawatt hour of peak electricity had cost only $500 compared with the $4600 per mWh in the last heatwave in 2009.

Mr Bygrave, who also set up the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program, said the Renewable Energy Target (RET) contributed less than 1% of the increased cost of energy compared with the 50% increase caused by re-investment in ageing infrastructure.

"There are now 1.4 million Australian homes with solar,'' he said.

"Traditional energy companies are worried about profit.''

Mr Bygrave said Mr McArdle's call to stop subsidising non-commercial energy sources should extend to the heavy subsidisation of traditional fossil fuel energy providers.

Sunshine Coast Cleantech Industries vice president Don Parry said Mr McArdle's statement showed a lack of support for the many mum-and-dad renewable industry businesses in his electorate.

He said the industry needed consistency and a long-range strategy rather than constant changes to suit the government of the day.

Mr Parry said coal-fired energy did not count the pollution cost of its production something that would make it much more expensive.

Mr McArdle's office did not respond to questions sent by the Daily.

Topics:  energy mark mcardle renewable energy solar energy


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