Clive Palmer – renewable energy’s unlikely savior?

I remember a time when life was simple. You either believed in global warming, and knew that only a mad dash for renewables could save the planet, or you thought it was the greatest con ever, and that solar and wind were just another way for governments to increase the tax take.

Then (lo and behold) look who jumps out of the woods. In a move that has caused understandable surprise across the renewable energy sector, the Palmer United Party’s top Western Australia senate candidate, Dio Wang, has issued a press release headlined “Renewable Energy Target should remain as is: Dio Wang”. In it Wang states: “I believe the RET scheme should remain as it. It worries me when the government says everything is on the table in reviewing the RET.” He continues: “Considering that the last review of the RET was completed in December 2012, just 14 months ago, I think the new review is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

The press release then goes on to say: “Mr Wang said that Australia’s renewable energy sector was a major source of jobs with the solar industry alone employing more people than the oil and gas extraction, gas supply and coal product manufacturing combined in 2012.”

Now the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that PUP leader Clive Palmer has endorsed Wang’s statement, adding that he is a ”supporter of renewable energy” and that this has “nothing to do with the carbon tax”.

Confused? Well we certainly are. So the next time you see a heat haze, or a polluted skyline, take a second look. It might just be the political lines getting increasingly blurred.

California electric grid sets solar generation record

“California set back-to-back solar power records last week, the state grid operator said on Monday.

The amount of electricity produced from carbon-free solar facilities connected to the grid reached 4,093 megawatts on Saturday, surpassing the day-earlier record of 3,926 MW, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) said in a statement.

With 5,231 MW, California leads the nation in installed solar generation, including thermal and photovoltaic facilities, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Power generated from solar has more than doubled from June 2012 when the ISO recorded 2,071 MW of peak production, the ISO said.

The record solar generation accounted for about 18 percent of the state’s 22,700-MW demand on Saturday, the ISO said, with the ability to supply about 3 million homes.” – Reuters

The rise and rise of big, grid-connected solar is complex information for the Australian energy business. Who doesn’t want cheap energy? The producers of less cheap energy, of course. Can big solar really achieve low enough prices to trouble coal and gas in an open market? If you believe the United States government, it can: the DoE predicts 5c / kWh within the next few years, and some plants are already shipping electricity at that price. How will local entrepreneurs react when this becomes a deployable commercial fact? There is certainly money to be made. Interesting times.