A new and wide-ranging report prepared by the US government in to the efficacy of renewable energy programs and targets contains valuable lessons and guidance for Australia, according to the union representing electrical and energy workers.
Electrical Trades Union national policy officer Lance McCallum, who specialises in energy market policy and analysis, said the report prepared by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory flew in the face of prevailing thinking in Federal Government circles on renewable targets.
“We have seen this government under both its recent leaders act with hesitancy, uncertainty and equivocation around renewable energy,” he said.
“They’ve given the impression, to investors and consumers, that renewables are unstable, expensive and risky. But this report shows that’s far from true.”
The report, titled A Prospective Analysis of the Costs, Benefits, and Impacts of U.S. Renewable Portfolio Standards modelled the impact of US renewable energy targets between 2015-2030 and found that RETs:
• Deliver between 4.7 million and 11.5 million new jobs;
• Reduce prices in some cases while in others would impact prices by a maximum of only 1c per KWh;
• Deliver air quality health benefits worth between US$97 and US$558 billion;
• Deliver greenhouse gas reductions worth between US$161B and US$599 billion - far exceeding any potential costs; and
• Deliver natural gas price reductions of between US$78 billion and US$99 billion to consumers.
Mr McCallum said the report vindicated those states that had pursued their own more aggressive RETs in the absence of federal leadership, and placed a responsibility on the federal government to raise its own targets.
“The evidence shows very clearly that RETs are economically positive, environmentally beneficial, deliver valuable health savings, and are a vital step on the path we must walk to a clean energy future,” he said.
ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said that the distance between the findings of the US research and the actions of the Australian government illustrated the extent to which Australia was underperforming in the renewable energy arena.
“While this Government has prevaricated on both renewable and emissions targets at both a national and international level, other countries and our own state governments lead the way. They have trashed consumer and investor confidence in these industries when the exact opposite is needed,” he said.
“If the Federal Government will not show leadership then state governments must.”
“The more renewable energy we have, the more jobs will be created, the more health costs are saved and the more carbon pollution is removed from the air we breathe.”
Full report available via http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy17osti/67455.pdf