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Emissions policy a costly cock-up
letter published in The Australian Financial Review, 19 August 2009
[square bracketed portions omitted from published letter]

Alan Mitchell says correctly that the proposed emissions reduction policy requiring  20 per cent of electricity to be supplied by renewable energy by 2020 will itself make no contribution to greenhouse gas abatement ("Renewable target is not the answer", Economic Briefing, August 17).

He might have added that the situation Australia now faces illustrates a total failure of government.

For a start the present government and its predecessor failed to hold an independent inquiry into the science used to justify the policy. That would have revealed the absence of any credible relationship between greenhouse gas emissions and temperature changes. And it would also have shown that, for the foreseeable future, possible alternative energy sources were either  uneconomic or unfeasible - or both.

Instead, our government has now proceeded to abandon the energy source (coal) that provides Australia with an enormous competitive advantage internationally - and without researching the availability of a realistic alternative or waiting to find out what our competitors are doing! A classic (and costly) cock-up.

Now, [as shown in Dr Quirk's analysis on Quadrant Online,] we face a situation in which only nuclear or wind (solar is highly [un]economic and intermittent) could conceivably provide the 20 per cent required over the next eleven years under the absurd policy enunciated. And with nuclear ruled out and uneconomic, that leaves intermittent wind.

However, because on average wind towers operate at only 30-35 per cent of capacity, it would be totally impracticable (and uneconomic) to build the 10,000 wind (Yes, ten thousand) towers that would be required.

Will the Rudd government, and the Turnbull opposition, acknowledge that there is no practical option available to meet the target set by the renewable energy legislation they are both keen to pass?

Des Moore
Director, Institute for Private Enterprise
South Yarra Vic

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