Southern Meats biogas technology shows up dinosaus coal debate |Editorial

As former Prime Minister Tony Abbott cycles on this year’s Pollie Pedal, conveniently taking in the Hazelwood coal-fired plant, Southern Meats abattoir is quietly getting on with a much more environmentally friendly technology.

The biogas facility, like many other renewables in this region, is a fascinating study in how raw materials can be converted into a valuable energy source. Thanks to a joint venture partnership with ReNu Energy and $2.1 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, it adds to the suite of ever growing clean technologies in this area.

Hume MP Angus Taylor, who is also participating in the Pollie Pedal, is lauding it as “fantastic technology” but is having a buck each way in the energy debate. 

“The Turnbull Government recognises the importance of waste management in Australia as well as the importance of energy affordability for Australian households and businesses,” he said in a statement.

“Conversion of waste into energy is one innovative way for us to help combat the challenges associated with both these issues.”

Mr Taylor has been a strong critic of wind farm subsidies but a backer of other renewable technology. Thankfully, he is not a member of the poorly named Monash Forum, calling for Hazelwood to be re-opened with $4 billion in taxpayer funds.

In public comments, he has refused to criticise the Forum’s aims or membership. Instead, he appears happy to leave it to market forces and “the smart people at the local level” to achieve “more affordable, more reliable energy.”

That’s well and good but we’re sure voters would like to know where he stands on coal-fired power.

It is dinosaur thinking by the likes of Mr Abbott, Barnaby Joyce and Kevin Andrews. The world has moved on, much quicker than Australia cares to facilitate. Political inertia helped by these stone age thinkers is hardly helping the cause. 

ARENA, a federal agency, has helped fund the Southern Meats biogas plant. But on Wednesday, ReNu Energy CEO Craig Ricato told The Post that funding such technology in Australia was a challenge, as companies such as his were very reliant on joint venture partners. Southern Meats has not had to pitch in but has been a willing subject. 

Rather than fighting over coal, the government would be far better off investing in more incentives for renewable technology.