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Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Page: 4177

Mr HAYES (1:53 PM) —I am proud to speak on the Renewable Energy (Electricity) (Charge) Amendment Bill 2010, Renewable Energy (Electricity) (Charge) Amendment Bill 2010 and Renewable Energy (Electricity) (Small-scale Technology Shortfall Charge) Bill 2010 as I for one believe in the development and the commercialising of our renewable energy industry. Apart from being able to generate jobs as we develop those technologies, this will play a vital role in fulfilling the clean energy requirements of this country well into the future. As you are aware, these bills seek to augment Australia’s commitment to 20 per cent renewable energy by the year 2020. Probably unlike many in the House, prior to coming here I had the very distinct honour of doing a lot of work in the renewable energy sector for a number of years and I know how difficult it is to commercialise technology. By the way, that is one of the reasons I spoke so loudly and so often when it came to the CPRS and developing an energy trading system in this country, which everyone to a person on that side of the House opposed. The purpose was to create the environment in which to commercialise renewable energy technology as the way forward for this country.

It is true that we are one of the largest coal-producing countries in the world and it is a fact that we are the world’s largest exporter of coal. If you look at the figures, we have something like 350 years of black coal and about 800 years of brown coal. Clearly, that is going to form a significant part of our economy into the future. That is one of the reasons why this country is one of the leaders in clean coal technology. If we are going to be producing and relying on and exporting coal, we will be out there producing clean coal technology. That is only commonsense.

The second aspect of these bills coming into play now is that, by making a commitment by the year 2020, we will move to 20 per cent of renewable energy in our suite of energy mix for this country. That is important because, if you are a company that is running coal fired power stations and selling power on the grids through those mechanisms and you know that by 2020 this is the commitment that you need to measure, one thing you will need to do is take an interest in the development of those renewable energy technologies so that you can augment your power production by funding these renewable energy streams.

It does not matter if we are talking large scale in terms of biomass, wind power generation, large-scale solar and geothermal, that is essentially where the target areas have been to date. Obviously we have made great inroads. People out there want to participate, to do something about the environment, and we see the take-up of solar panels as well as solar hot water pumps and solar hot water systems. People are playing their part. What we have attempted to do through this suite of bills is to make the distinction between those large-scale projects in looking at the RET, the renewable energy target, together with looking at those small domestic contributions that are made through solar panels and solar water heaters.

Just before I came here, as I was coming back from lunch, oddly enough I happened to meet with Mr Gerry McGowan and Mr Mark Fogarty of CBD Energy and a number of people from the Bank of China. The reason that is relevant—not to say that I just met with them—is that they are talking with financiers at the moment about commercialising a wind project in Gundagai. They are talking about financing through the Bank of China the development of a large-scale wind project in Gundagai, which is going to generate significant renewable energy and will only be aided and commercialised if we go ahead with these renewable energy targets. Another very interesting thing is the deployment of new technology through the use of more suitable turbines. As I understand it, the technical advice has been provided by Tianwei Wind. It is being looked at to commercialise this in a way that makes it not only more efficient energy generation but also viable through the size of the power plant and its reliability in selling directly back into the gird itself.

That meeting was just a chance meeting. Walking through the corridors today are people committed to going down that path, people who are committed to looking at commercialising our renewable energy technology. It is why this government stood on that basis and it is why we pressed so heavily for an energy trading system when we had the opportunity to do so which was regrettably rejected on three occasions by those on the other side of the House. This bill will make vast improvements to the renewable energy resources. It will drive the development and the deployment of renewable energy technologies to indices and create jobs.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2.00 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 97. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the member for Werriwa will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.