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Thursday, 17 September 2009
Page: 6813

Senator CASH (9:36 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to table the explanatory memorandum to the bill and to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

This Bill seeks to amend the Renewable Energy (Electricity Act) 2000 and deals with the quota of renewable certificates available to renewable resource technologies and the inclusion of energy efficient transmission systems as being eligible for renewable certificates.

The provisions of Schedule 1 ensure that the more mature renewable technologies, such as wind, will not crowd out from access to renewable energy certificates emerging renewable technologies which will have the potential to provide more reliable and cheaper renewable energy but which will require the financial benefits of renewable certificates to attract private investment to develop their technology.

I note that only last week Victorian company, Solar Systems went into voluntary administration, notwithstanding having been offered $75 million of federal government moneys and $50 million of Victorian government moneys to build a solar facility near Mildura. The reason was that they were unable, at that level and without the support of renewable certificates in sufficient numbers to attract private investment.

The purpose of this Bill is to limit any one renewable resource technology to 20,000 gigawatt hours in the ultimately available 45,000 gigawatt hour renewable target.

This would allow for a greater range of resources, for example the use of tidal power, wave power, thermal power or solar power or other renewables to deliver benefits which are long term and environmentally friendly.

Schedule 2 of the Bill recognises that energy saved in the transmission of power, as available in new technologies such as high-voltage DC current transmission, achieves the same purpose as renewable generation inasmuch as it requires fewer emissions from the generator to supply demand.

There is a very interesting comparison of the efficiency of a variety of transmission technologies in delivering energy to the point where Australians wish to consume it, be it domestically or for business.

For example, in my home State of Western Australia, the Dampier-Bunbury pipeline which delivers gas from the Pilbara Region in the North to the South West, the demand has grown exponentially in recent times and, as a result, the pressure in the pipeline has been increased for the purpose of delivering sufficient energy.

The energy required to deliver that gas through the pipeline is now the same as the output from one of the State’s Collie powerhouses—225 megawatts.

The emissions associated with pumping the gas that distance are about 700,000 tonnes. One might choose to compare that with the changeover from incandescent globes to fluorescent globes, where the national saving is estimated at 800,000 tonnes of emissions.

In other words, instead of having a highly inefficient system of delivering energy to consumers in the south-west of WA via a gas pipeline, it is much more efficient to generate the electricity from that same gas and deliver it to the consumer via alternative means, for instance an underground high-voltage DC transmission systems.

The Bill does not dictate what alternative energy source must be used, rather. it leaves it to the regulator to make a comparison where and how the energy is transmitted.. It opens up a very real opportunity for renewable energies and lower emissions to be used as an alternative.

I remind Honourable Senators that high-voltage DC power now crosses Bass Strait. The provisions of this Bill will mean that if the regulator gives a rating to a particular transmission system where, as a consequence, more power gets to the other end, that would qualify, by government regulation, for the issue of certificates which are renewable energy rated.

The provisions of this Bill which has been originated in the other place by Hon Wilson Tuckey, Member for O’Connor, are commendable and worthy of support and I sincerely hope the government looks very positively at this idea.

There are a mass of emerging technologies which should not be crowded out, particularly by wind generation.

The Government should take an upfront pro-active role in developing and investing in Australia’s significant and valuable renewable energy technologies.

Senator CASH —I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.