Israel’s BrightSource Energy is among the large-scale solar developers happy with the Australian government’s new carbon “tax” that was just carefully shepherded through parliament by Prime Minister Julia Gillard despite the sort of astroturfing hysteria normally perpetrated only in American media.
Two new agencies will handle clean energy investment, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. While details of the funding package are still being finalised, utility-scale clean energy projects will most likely be able to access loan guarantees and equity investments through the bank.
The success of loan guarantees have been proven says Andrew Dyer, the Australian director for BrightSource Energy, which has shown itself to be adept at leveraging loan guarantees in the US and in skillfully maneuvering its utility scale solar plants through the regulatory minefields of environmental stumbling blocks put in the way of clean energy in the US – while somehow leaving the real polluting energy unmolested.
In addition, Dyer suggests that the Australian government help the new clean energy industry get started by providing assistance in navigating the planning processes, and by creating the legislation that will allow clean energy companies to sign power purchase agreements with utilities.
The Australian legislation Gilliard passed last month is commonly referred to as a carbon tax, but it is actually a cap and trade plan.
Carbon permits will be bought and sold by private companies. Polluter industries that clean up, will be the sellers, and those that persist in polluting will have to now become the buyers of the carbon permits. (Or they could reduce their emissions and become permit sellers).
The top 500 most polluting companies, typically coal mines, must buy the permits. Reimbursements will given to consumers – on a sliding scale based on income – to partly or fully offset the price rise of electricity during the transition to new clean sources of energy. At most, additional costs will be trivial, a few cents a week.
For the first three years, the price for carbon permits will be fixed (AU$23) under Gillard’s carbon emissions trading scheme.
This is different from a tax, in which a government levies a source of revenue for general benefits provided by governments such as roads and schools and healthcare.
But try telling that to the hysterical corporate media. Rupert Murdock of Fox News, the owner of the tabloids that were recently in big trouble in the UK, started out in Australian media. To read Australian newspapers these days, it looks as if he never left.