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Wednesday, 16 September 2009
Page: 6745

Senator PARRY (Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (4:07 PM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum in relation to the bill.

Leave granted.

Senator PARRY —I table the explanatory memorandum, and I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard and to continue my remarks.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Government has failed the geothermal industry and other emerging renewable energy technologies with its recent renewable energy legislation.

The Coalition is concerned that the Government’s legislation provides more established renewable energy technologies with an advantage over emerging technologies.

The Coalition raised these concerns during discussions with the Government over the recent renewable energy target (RET) legislation, but the Labor Government remained resolute in its opposition to offering firm support for emerging technologies such as the geothermal sector.

Particularly, we are concerned that the geothermal energy sector will be disadvantaged by the changes as implemented by the Government.

As a Senator for South Australia, I make no apologies for championing the potential of geothermal energy and other emerging renewable energy sources including wave technology.

The Coalition firmly believes a proportion of the Renewable Energy Target should be banded and reserved for emerging renewable technologies including geothermal, wave, tidal, biomass, solar thermal and solar concentrator energy.

This Bill achieves this goal and confirms the Coalition’s support for the future of these emerging technologies.

The Government has argued against measures to ensure the deployment of these currently less-developed technologies.

The Minister for Climate Change and Water advised the Senate in August that the geothermal industry has received $83 million in targeted grant support since the year 2000. Most of this support was under the previous Coalition government.

For instance, in my home state of South Australia, geothermal energy has a great potential for jobs and to provide base load power and this was recognised by the Coalition in Government.

I have visited the Geodynamics operation in the Cooper Basin and strongly support the future of geothermal to the South Australian economy.

The Australian Emerging Renewable Energy Technology Alliance highlighted their concerns in August when they highlighted in a statement that the risk of the RET is that it will result in an “overbuild of wind projects in the early years of the scheme”.

This is a particularly important point given the potential of geothermal’s contribution to peak and base-load power.

In its submission to the Senate Economics Committee’s inquiry into the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2009, the Australian Geothermal Energy Association highlighted that “geothermal energy is predicted to be lowest cost renewable energy by the time the RET peaks in 2020, but this is predicated on the industry receiving the appropriate incentives to full develop over the next 10 years”.

Geothermal is the only renewable energy with the potential to contribute to baseload capacity, which was a point neglected by the Government’s RET legislation.

The Coalition in Government was strongly supportive of geothermal energy and other emerging technologies.

In March 2007, the Government convened the first geothermal energy industry roundtable and agreed to establish a Geothermal Industry Development Framework.

In support of projects across Australia we also allocated significant funding for geothermal energy research and development.

Further, we went to the last election with a firm commitment to support geothermal energy including by contributing funding to a major geothermal power project in South Australia and support for geothermal through our commitment to establish a new National Research Institute for Geothermal Energy and providing funding for specific geothermal energy projects.

Through the Renewable Energy Development Initiative, we had also committed $5million to KUTh Energy Ltd for geothermal resource mapping and database assistance, in Tasmania and $5 million for the Perth-based Carnegie Corporation development of CETO wave energy technology, in South Australia.

Our support for emerging renewable energy technologies is confirmed by this Bill and we encourage the Government to support our amendments so that solar thermal energy or solar concentrator energy, geothermal energy, ocean thermal energy, tidal energy and biofuels are not left behind by the RET.

As a South Australian Senator, I remain firmly of the view that geothermal has a role to play in future baseload power generation capacity for our state and the national electricity market and all efforts should be made to support the potential of this technology going forward.

Debate (on motion by Senator Parry) adjourned.