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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6456


Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (5:22 PM) —Thank you for the range of questions going to the Clean Energy Initiative, a program that has received wonderful support in the Australian community, especially support in recent days from a former member of the coalition, the member for Kennedy, who is talking about the creation of a clean energy corridor as part of the development of a major resources and energy sector in Queensland. With respect to the issues appropriately raised by the member for Groom and former minister, and with respect to the new expenditure on carbon capture and storage, the program runs from 2009-10 to 2017-18. I am prepared, if he desires it, to arrange a full briefing by my department about the details of the department.

For the purposes of the record: in 2009-10 it is $144.8 million; in 2010-11, $88.4 million; in 2011-12, $84.5 million; in 2012-13, $84.5 million; in 2013-14, $400.6 million; in 2014-15, $276.4 million; in 2015-16, $325.6 million; in 2016-17, $200 million; and in 2017-18, $200 million. As the member for Groom appreciates, the objective is to try to prove this commercial capacity in the time span of 2015-2020. It is therefore a program of funding which is aimed at the selection of the right demonstration models and, in doing so, working with the private sector and state and territory governments for the purposes of facilitating the investment over an appropriate time horizon. On the issue of clean energy I say that, over and above carbon capture and storage—which I also regard as part of the clean energy debate because it goes to the future of the existing generators in Australia, the commercial life of which will be determined by those investors in the light of the development of the energy system in Australia—we as a nation have to invest in the renewables sector.

For that reason we have $1.6 billion for the development of the solar flagships, which effectively will mean that we will achieve in Australia the biggest solar flagship demonstration activity in the world. It is targeted to create 1,000 megawatts of solar power generation capacity in Australia. That will not only focus on solar PV; we hope for that investment also to prove the capacity of solar thermal, which is the key to the renewables debate because it is about base load, reliable energy in Australia.

I also understand the issue of wind power raised by the member for Groom. We all appreciate that under a carbon pollution reduction scheme and a renewable energy target of 20 per cent it will be the early growth opportunity. As he appreciates as a former minister for energy, that also creates additional challenges with respect to the operation of the energy network. That is something that is going to have to be worked through. We have a review of the rules and regulations on the operation of the system that will take into account the introduction of the CPRS and the RET. Like him, I also understand the need to look beyond solar, solar PV, solar thermal and wind to do whatever we can to facilitate the development of other renewables such as geothermal, which has great prospects in Australia, and wave power. One should also not forget the potential of biomass. In terms of the energy debate we will do everything we can to encourage the development of all clean energy options in Australia.

That goes to the issues raised by the member for Flynn, a long-time supporter of the coal industry and someone who understands the importance of coal fired power stations. It is a significant additional investment of $2 billion by the government on top of previous investments—and a program initiated by the previous government that we supported in opposition because we understood the nature of the debate in terms of energy security in Australia. The issue raised by the member for Newcastle reinforces the importance of clean energy. I was pleased to see the delivery of an election commitment to establish a solar institute headquartered in Newcastle to try to facilitate appropriate focus on research and development of the solar industry in Australia. That partnership includes not only CSIRO but also two well-placed strategic research activities in the University of New South Wales and the ANU. (Extension of time granted) In terms of the detail which I have outlined to the member for Groom, to facilitate proper consideration of these matters it is probably best that we arrange an appropriate time for him, as the shadow minister, to go through the financial allocations for the clean energy program over the forward years.