Australia’s energy market confusion is hurting the environment and business

(Eco Business, 27 Feb 2019) Clarity and decisiveness from governments is critical to managing the renewable energy transition, with Australia’s decade of policy chaos providing a lesson in how not to do things.

Across the Asia Pacific region, government policy on sustainable energy is often a study in mixed messaging, reflecting a stop-and-go approach and lack of consensus.

Vietnam has revised the seventh edition of its Power Development Plan, cutting total power output by 18 per cent by 2030 and incorporating solar and more hydro. But the nation maintains the world’s 3rd-largest pipeline for coal power plants, and looks set to quadruple coal’s generation capacity.

Malaysia’s still-fresh government has recently opened a tender for 500MW of large-scale solar, and launched a suite of tweaks to the rooftop solar marketplace. However, there is also renewed discussion of opening protected forests in Sabah to coal mining exploration.

And, despite being an ASEAN leader in clean energy legislation, the Philippines is undergoing a government-led boom in coal generation projects.

But the past decade has demonstrated that Australia can prevaricate with the best in the region. Ferocious cultural warfare over renewable energy has paralysed policy, contributing to the downfall of six prime ministers and Australia’s reputation as “coup capital of the Pacific”.

And despite installing renewables at 4-5 times the rate of China or the European Union (per capita), it’s unclear whether Australia is set to shoot past - or miss completely - its Paris Agreement targets. Confusion is prevailing in environmental and business planning.

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Eco Business, 27 Feb 2019: Australia’s energy market confusion is hurting the environment and business