Well 2012 has been a huge year for renewable energy. Keeping up with the speed of change in policy, politics, technology - and working through the challenges of ensuring the community voice is heard in the face of massive industry power - has my head hurting some working days! (and some non-working ones...)
While creating change is never easy, this year has been remarkable for the many rays of hope shining through.
Below is a wrap up of the ten coolest things that happened this year compiled by our trusty comms coordinator Andrew.
On the subject of team members, I’d also like to take this chance to say a huge thank you to the small team of organisers who make possible the massive volunteer effort this campaign supports. To Andrew, Dean and Jen, and to Jamie, Janet, Kirsten, Sue, Yasir, Jim, Danae, Mack, Mick, Karen and Philippa a huge thank you!
I’d also like to thank all our friends in the renewable energy and not for profit sectors that we’ve been lucky enough to work alongside this year.
Most of all I want to acknowledge you - the leaders and members of our community who are making an effort - no matter how big or small - to transition Australia to a renewable energy future.
As one of my best mates wrote to me in a card I plucked out of my letterbox this morning - hope you all have a “100% Relaxable” end of year break, ready to return fit and firing for next year!
The currents now running our way
1. 1.5 million solar homes, and they’re flexing their political muscle
This year, the number of Australians with solar on their roof topped 1.5 million - a huge cross-section of the Australian population and a huge potential constituency. In a sign that this group are discovering their political power, the Queensland government was forced to drop plans to slash their solar feed in tariff after amajor public backlash.
2. Renewables our cheapest source of power within a decade
We try not to get too excited about graphs here but there were some stunners released this year from the most conservative place imaginable - Martin Ferguson’s Department of Energy and Resources. They showed that wind energy would be the cheapest form of new build electricity generation by 2020 and that Solar PV would overtake it shortly thereafter.
3. Carbon price and renewable target eating away at coal - and emissions
With 2000 megawatts of Australian solar panels working away every day and energy efficiency catching on, total demand for electricity across the Australian network is dropping for the first time in 120 years. This has led to the mothballing or closing of five coal-fired power stations in the last 12 months.
4. Climate Change Authority holds the line against fossil fuel lobbying
After delivery of your People’s RET Review and major pressure from other partner groups, the Climate Change Authority recommended the government stick with a fixed Renewable Energy Target. It’s a long way short of the increased 2020 target and at least 50% by 2030 target we want to see but its a sign that going backwards on renewables is no longer an option. (well, not until we see the Coalition’s policy on the RET - but that’s one for next year....)
Some of what we all achieved together this year
5. Have you ever seen Grant King look so unhappy?
Members of the campaign put the squeeze on one of Australia’s latest blocker of renewables, Origin Energy’s MD, Grant King when a small group of 100% Renewable campaigners took over Origin’s AGM in November. Flyers, challenging questions and a huge banner unfurled in front of shareholders had King really feeling the heat.
6. Hundred of calls shake politicians’ offices
When politicians did their politician thing and backed fossil fuels over renewables, you were onto them. When Greg Combet announced cuts to solar programs, or Martin Ferguson reneged on his promise to shut coal-fired plants or Tony Abbott started to waver on support for the RET, hundreds of you were on the phone to their offices and to the offices of MPs in their parties to let them know we weren’t happy, Jan.
7. Putting big solar on the lips of the commentators and pollies
120 of you gathered at the Big Solar Boot Camp in Sydney to explore common ground and build campaigning skills. From this date on - through launches, solar polling, lobby day and more - you turned 'big solar' into a phrase, even Greg Combet has now used!
8. 50 pollie big solar blitz Canberra Lobby Day
30 community leaders descended on Canberra in May to argue the case for big solar to 50 politicians, and hold leading shadow cabinet members to account on their plans to build big and small solar.
9. 100,0000 (media) viewers, 1000 walkers, 21 walks and 1 solar thermal station
In September you took the kick-arse local community campaign to Repower Port Augusta with solar thermal and made it into a national issue with 20 walks across the country that supported the big one from Port Augusta to Adelaide.
10. A movement of solar owners and bringing the accountability back: plans for 2013
We're super excited to announce that we've got even bigger and better plans for next year. Most prominent amongst these will be the beginnings of a new 'Solar Citizens' project to give a voice to the existing 1.5 million solar homes - and all of those Australians who still hope to one day 'go solar'. We'll also be launching a new 'Solar Scorecard' which will rate politicians on their record of support for renewable energy, and bring some accountability back into the renewable energy conversation. See you there in 2013!