Guest essay by Eric Worrall
What do you call a field of energy research so economically useless that it is utterly dependent on government funding for its very existence? We may be about to find out, thanks to the desperation of cash strapped Aussie politicians fighting to retain Australia’s shaky AAA credit rating.
Australian Renewable Energy Agency funding cuts will lead to ANU job losses: Andrew Blakers
Dozens of researchers at the Australian National University in Canberra will lose their jobs if cuts to Australia’s renewable energy research agency are passed by the Parliament, according to one of the sector’s pioneers.
Deep cuts to the funding of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, contained in the Turnbull government’s omnibus “budget repair” bill before the Parliament this week, is an “existential threat” to clean energy innovation in Australia, Professor Andrew Blakers says.
Professor Blakers, a world leader in renewables research, says scores of his colleagues around the country will lose their jobs if the government gets its bill through the Parliament and advances that would deliver major economic benefits to the country would be lost.
“There is an existential threat to renewable energy research, innovation and education in Australia,” Professor Blakers said.
“If ARENA is dismantled, then many people would lose their jobs including dozens at ANU.
“In the longer term, Australia’s leadership in solar energy would vanish.
“After the fiasco involving CSIRO climate scientists, we now have a potential fiasco in mitigation of climate change.”
If we accept Professor Blaker’s premise, that withdrawal of government funding poses an “existential” threat to renewables R&D, the total lack of private interest in clean energy R&D tells us everything we need to know, about whether scientific breakthroughs which improve renewable efficiency would yield useful economic benefits.