Australian RE braces for Abbott

Renewable energy advocates in Australia are braced for impact following the expected victory of Tony Abbott’s Coalition party, which has made scrapping the country’s carbon price scheme its first priority in power.

The Coalition has also put the country’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) on notice of the axe, and vowed to introduce stringent monitoring of noise emissions from wind farms. It has made conciliatory noises to Australia's mining and fossil fuel industries.

Abbott’s comprehensive victory still leaves him relying on the support of minority parties in Australia’ senate, and facing the legal complexities of unwinding the flagship environmental policies of the his Labor predecessor.

The Coalition has also pledged to carry out a thorough review before formulating a detailed Energy policy.

However, Abbott’s party has made its intentions clear on some aspects of the former government’s green agenda – such as the carbon price and CEFC – and left the door open for dilution of other elements of Australia’s multi-pronged green policy.

They include the Renewable Energy Target (RET), widely admired as one of the most ambitious in the world.

There was relief earlier this year when the independent body set up to review the 2020 large-scale renewables target recommended it should be held at its current level of 41TWh annually.

But the Coalition has indicated it plans to look at the target again in 2014 – prompting fears it will be watered down.

Major Australian wind power developers such as AGL Energy and Infigen have this year said uncertainty over the RET is hampering investment in the sector.

Whatever else happens, the wind industry certainly faces more scrutiny under the Coalition. One of its few detailed pre-election policy commitments over renewables was to set up an inquiry "to determine any actual or potential health effects of wind farms".

It also plans to set up "real -time monitoring of wind farm noise emissions to be made publicly available on the internet".

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