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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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What's happening with ARENA?

The recently passed Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016 originally included a measure to reduce funding to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency by $1.26 billion between 2017–18 and 2021–22. The move has been controversial, with the renewable energy industry, academics and environmentalists opposing it. Eventually, a compromise was reached between the Government and the Opposition to reduce the budget cut to $500 million. However, the deal has become more complicated, with the Government proposing additional changes to support for renewable energy. This FlagPost explains what has happened.   Read more...

Coal Seam Gas: the Commonwealth's regulatory role

A recent episode of the ABC’s Q&A series in Tamworth discussed state and Commonwealth responsibility for coal seam gas and coal mining project regulation and raised the question: how is the Commonwealth involved in the regulation of coal seam gas (CSG)? Read more...

tsaiproject / flickr

The end of ARENA

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann confirmed yesterday that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will be discontinued in the 2014-15 Budget. Although it is less than two years old, ARENA is the last in a line of short-lived renewable energy initiatives that span almost a decade. ARENA has attracted little attention in its short life. What exactly is its role?  Read more...

Appliance energy ratings get the standard treatment

Parliamentary debates on the Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) Bill have been deferred. The Bill was originally scheduled for discussion on Thursday 28 June, with the portfolio Shadow Minister to outline the Coalition’s position. Although the scheme started out as a Labor election promise in 2007, it evolved into a commitment under COAG’s National Strategy on Energy Efficiency to ‘establish national legislation for Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and labelling, and over time move to add Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS)’. This Bill implements that COAG commitment.Historically, the energy efficiency of appliances has been managed at the state level, prima... Read more...

The deeper worries about coal seam gas

One-third of Eastern Australia cooks its breakfast, warms its homes, and generates its power from natural gas, the main component of which is methane, supplied by coal seam gas (CSG) operations. Our need for natural gas has allowed CSG operations to grow, but critics contend that this has not always been accompanied by sufficient understanding of the social and environmental implications. Ground and surface water contamination, water consumption, and waste disposal are but a few issues fuelling the ongoing debate. However, reports of deeper risks are now surfacing.The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recently indicated that CSG activities in the US appear to have contributed to an incr... Read more...

The sun sets on solar hot water rebates

The Government has ended its solar hot water rebate initiative, the Renewable Energy Bonus Scheme (REBS). An announcement was made yesterday that henceforth REBS rebates will only be eligible to those people who have had systems installed, ordered or purchased before 28 February 2012, and lodged a claim before 30 June 2012. Although the scheme was always meant to end on 30 June 2012, this is the first time a purchase cut-off date has been publicised. Besides providing prospective applicants with no prior warning, the closure raises the question of why has the rebate been phased out so suddenly?REBS was first announced on 19 February 2010 as a replacement for the discontinued Home Insulation ... Read more...

Emissions performance standards for Australian coal-fired power

On 30 November 2010, the Government released its discussion paper: A Cleaner Future for Power Stations. The paper proposes that all new power stations be required to meet a minimum emissions performance standard and be capable of retrofitting carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies when these become commercially available (which is expected to occur within the lifetime of new power plants). The Parliamentary Library has produced a Background Note, Performance standards to reduce energy emissions, that sets out the backdrop against which an Australian emissions performance standard might be explored.Australian convential power plants emit between 0.37 and 1.38 tonnes of carbon dioxide e... Read more...

Electric hot water systems being phased out

From this year, the Commonwealth Government has begun a two-stage phase-out of electric hot water systems. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from March 2008 show that 'electricity was the primary source throughout Australia for household cooking and for hot water systems'. In fact, the http://www.yourhome.gov.au/ website advises that 'water heating accounts for 25 per cent of the energy used in an average home and is responsible for 23 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions from home energy use'. From this year, a national phase-out of electric hot water systems is taking place on a state-by-state basis. Viable alternatives, under the initiative, include both solar and gas hot ... Read more...

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