Two recent items from the energy sector. First on renewable energy:
The Australian government has moved to ensure the passing of renewable energy legislation in the Senate by decoupling a 20 percent renewables target by 2020 from its more controversial carbon emissions trading bill. The contentious legislation was rejected in the Senate earlier in the week where the government has insufficient numbers to ensure the bill's passage.
and in the carbon sector:
A decades-long windfall for Australia's natural gas sector looks assured with up to $100 billion of fresh investment over 12 to 18 months expected across a range of projects after China promised last night to buy $50bn worth of natural gas from the proposed North West Shelf Gorgon development. The Gorgon venture promises to be Australia's biggest resources project, pumping $40bn into the federal government's tax coffers over the next 20 to 30 years.
So while the Australians struggle to agree on a bill on carbon emissions in their own country they are quite happy to sell fossil fuels to the Chinese without batting an eyelid over the envionmental impact, besides which it brings in taxes. Actually the "Australian natural gas sector" comprises such great Antipodean names as Exxon, Shell and Chevron, but still it is a boost to their economy.
On the other hand they want to commit to 20% power generation from renewable sources. Since Australia doesn't have a lot of hydro, it looks like they will have to rely on unpredictable wind power or the currently expensive solar. If they go for the latter option they will need the $40 billion tax revenues from Chinese gas sales to pay for the solar subsidies.
And where would they buy their solar panels? From China, of course. So net net, Australia gets to sell vast dollops of energy to China and uses the cash to buy back and operate solar panels that will produce a fraction of the energy sold.