Asia Minute: Energy Shift for Australia

Oct 18, 2017

Broken Hill solar plant in South Australia
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Utility companies around the world are trying to manage a transition to more use of renewable energy. But they are moving at different speeds, and sometimes with different goals. Under a law passed a couple of years ago, the state of Hawai‘i is committed to 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2045. In Australia, the policy debate has taken a different turn. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


Australia’s prime minister shifted the focus of his country’s energy policy this week, rejecting the idea of setting a target for renewable energy use.

That goes against the recommendation of the country’s chief scientist.

Yes, Australia has had a federal position called the “chief scientist” since 1989.

Earlier this year, the chief scientist recommended a plan to generate 42 percent of the country’s electricity from wind and solar by the year 2030.

Instead, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is proposing what he calls the “National Energy Guarantee”—putting the emphasis on consistent reliability of supply.

This plan would require utilities to provide a certain amount of electricity from coal, gas and hydroelectric power.

Conservative lawmakers had argued that a focus on renewable energy would continue government subsidies to generators of solar and wind power.

The prime minister says his plan will save households a hundred dollars a year on their electricity bills—although he supplied few details.

The policy debate is far from over, and a key element is the reaction of Australia’s six state governments.

The premier of South Australia has already called the plan a “coal energy target.”

The Energy Minister of Queensland says his state remains committed to a goal of getting fifty percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources.