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Warburton gives Green Tick to “Dead Koala Power”


Conservationists are facing a renewed challenge to stop subsidies for burning native forest wood mislabelled as “renewable energy”.


This week’s Warburton report, “Renewable Energy Target Scheme - Report of the Expert Panel” (RET) recommends subsidies for burning native forest wood and calling it “renewable energy.”


It recommends that the “Government’s commitment to the reinstatement of native forest wood waste as a renewable energy source ….. should be implemented through the reintroduction of the relevant regulations in force prior to 2011”


A green tick for “dead koala power” is at odds with other recommendations in the report which would severely hit the renewable energy sector in Australia according to Convenor of the Chipstop Campaign against Woodchipping, Harriett Swift.

“Subsidies for native forest wood power could provide financial incentives for projects such as the wood fired power station, once proposed for the South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) Eden chipmill,” Ms Swift said.

This was abandoned in 2012 because it was uneconomic without large subsidies and because electricity retailers were nervous about their prospects of selling “dead koala power.”

“In 2009 SEFE was ordered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to stop referring to its electricity as “Green Power.”

Ms Swift said that SEFE’s parent company, Nippon Paper uses wood to generate electricity in Japan and has plans to expand its energy business.

“A subsidised market for the left overs from native forest woodchipping could make the difference between survival or death for the industry,” she said.

“Classifying it renewable energy would also mean it would be competing with genuine renewables such as solar, wind and tidal power which will struggle to survive if the Warburton recommendations are accepted,” she said.

Earlier this year, the NSW Government changed its law to allow the burning of whole native forest trees to generate electricity.

“At a time when the Australian native forest logging industry should be coming to terms with life after woodchipping, this could be a serious step backwards,” Ms Swift said.

29 August 2014