Our Federal Government has made it clear through recent ministerial announcements that it intends to continue to support the fossil fuel industry, particularly coal, through its advocacy for the Adani mega mine, continued coal exports and the building of more coal fired power stations. Such enthusiasm for fossil fuel expansion comes at the expense of government support for renewable energy, such as wind and solar.
This is not good news for environmental groups who have strongly advocated the expansion of renewable energy, and have long expressed concern about the environmental damage done by coal. It is also not good news for the business community, which has been reluctant to engage with renewable energy because of the uncertainty with policies around the issue.
There is, however, an increasing trend among organisations and communities to ignore governments and to proceed with renewable energy projects regardless of current policy and the prevailing political climate.
An example of such initiative is the Victorian town of Yackandandah. Formed in 2014, Totally Renewable Yackandandah is a volunteer organisation which aims to power the town with 100 per cent renewable energy and achieving energy sovereignty by 2022.The group is working with Ausnet, which runs Victoria's grid to trial new storage technology, powered by a renewable energy farm, with all profits to return to the community.
Reluctance from government and the big three energy companies to truly embrace renewable energy has paved the way for a Northern Rivers people powered revolution. Launched in July, 2015, Enova Energy, a community based energy retailer based in Byron Bay is a not-for-profit local company whose mission is to offer the country's highest feed-in tariff and lowest green power price whilst negotiating with social welfare groups to tackle energy poverty in the region.
Local governments such as the city of Melbourne and the ACT are working towards sourcing all energy from renewables.The Melbourne Renewable Energy Project involves the City of Melbourne, together with other local governments, cultural ,local and educational institutions launching a competitive tender in April 2016 to purchase 110 gigawatt hours worth of energy from new large scale renewable energy facilities.
The ACT Government has demonstrated its commitment to renewable energy through its aim to be fully powered by renewables by 2020.