The Australian has an article on the impact of large scale solar hot water power programs on the price of renewable energy certificates, noting "THE accelerating slump in the price of renewable energy certificates is putting pressure on the federal government to review the structure of the system that supports its renewable energy target" - Renewable energy target needs a rethink.
While European countries, the US and China are surging forward with investment in renewables, Australia has been left flat-footed.
The renewable energy target is expected to fix part of the problem and spark large investments in wind turbines, but the development of two of the transformative energy sources of the future, solar and geothermal, are at a virtual standstill, despite the fact Australia enjoys the most generous resources in the world.
This year, about 6000MW of solar energy capacity will be installed around the world, a further 9000MW expected next year and doubling to an estimated 20,000MW by 2013. Australia's share this year is a paltry 50MW and it is not expected to increase significantly in the next few years.
Solar thermal is expected to offer the best solution for large-scale and distributed solar power supplies and the present confirmed development portfolio across the world is estimated at 4000MW and in Australia just 8MW.
In geothermal, there is 10,000MW of capacity as well as a similar amount in the pipeline. Australia is expected to bring just 1Mw of capacity into production next year, adding to the tiny facility that has been operating at Birdsville since 1992.
Australia does have the opportunity to be a world leader in developing enhanced geothermal systems, tapping hotter rocks that lie deep underground, but the drip-feed nature of government funding, particularly in regards to drilling, means progress in this and in developing more conventional geothermal energy sources in deep-lying aquifers is slow, and there are now concerns that further delays will impede the country's ability to develop its expected 2000MW of geothermal capacity by 2020.
While we haven't been doing too well at implementing large scale solar or geothermal power plants, we are always happy to dig up dirt and ship it offshore - with the rising demand for batteries leading to a lithium boom in WA - Haddington boards lithium train. I guess there's more ways than one to participate in a cleantech boom.
PERTH junior Haddington has jumped aboard the lithium train, annoucing a new discovery in Western Australia's Pilbara region. Rock chip sampling has thrown up results from 0.4 per cent to 5 per cent lithium at its Pilgangoora prospect south of Port Hedland.
Lithium, like rare earths, has been cause for excitement because of its use in hybrid cars and has been a handy driver of the share prices of Galaxy, Orocobre, and Reed Resources. Mr Haddington says lithium consumption has been growing at a rate of 5 to 7 per cent in the past five years, dirven by use in rechargeable batteries.