No cheers for solar from new energy minister

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The solar industry of Australia is waiting anxiously to gauge the fall-out of Friday’s bout of Coalition government infighting, that saw Scott Morrison take the hot seat as PM.

With Malcolm Turnbull toppled at the second attempt – the catalyst for which was the divisive National Energy Guarantee – the initial signs were not good for the renewables lobby, as the nation welcomed a prime minister who took a lump of coal into parliament 18 months ago, to extol the virtue of the fossil fuel.

One of the new PM’s first acts has been to separate the portfolios of environment and energy, a potentially grim signal for the PV lobby of the prevalent new ideology, with fellow Liberal Angus Taylor appointed energy minister and Melissa Price handed the environment brief.

A quick trawl of the admittedly less-than-reliable Wikipedia – which appears to offer the basis of a positive article about the new energy minister in yesterday’s The Australian newspaper – offers few clues as to Taylor’s outlook.

Climate sceptic or not?

By turns the new minister, who hails from a farming background in Nimmitabel, New South Wales, is quoted as denying he is a climate sceptic – albeit from the stage of a “Wind Power Fraud Rally” event in 2013 – while also decrying the idea of man-made climate change with the sentiment: “The new climate religion, recruiting disciples every day, has little basis on fact and everything to do with blind faith” – although no reliable attribution is given to a quote purportedly “delivered to parliament”.

Taylor is said to have authored a report, also in 2013 – for the management consultancy he worked for – stating Australia could scrap its national renewable energy target and save $3.2bn at a stroke while still hitting its emission reduction targets. Given Turnbull caved on emissions targets in the NEG, that won’t be much of a concern for the new man.

Part of the ideological lobby that is driven by the belief renewable energy is driving up energy bills – despite growing evidence to the contrary – Taylor is also said to have recommended the Victoria state government promote additional, mostly on-shore gas supply, again in 2013.

The omens are not good for solar but the new minister will be defined by his actions and at least, having completed his MPhil at Oxford University in the U.K. with a study of the links between British beer producers and pubs, he can probably be relied upon to organize a p***-up in a brewery.