Govt focuses on falling cost of renewables

October 09, 2017

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will offer the government Labor's support for a clean energy target.

Labor will offer to use its numbers to help the Turnbull government defy the griping from its anti-renewables backbenchers and make a clean energy target a reality.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will tell an energy summit in Sydney on Monday his offer of support for a clean energy target, which Labor sees as a second-best policy, still stands.

But he warns that doesn't mean "compromise at any cost".

"I don't imagine we will get everything we want and the LNP may not get everything they want," he will tell the AFR's national energy summit.

"But that cannot mean we throw up our hands, return to our trenches and resume hostilities."

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has recommended the clean energy target be used to help the electricity sector stay reliable while reducing emissions, along with requirements for renewable generators to have storage back-up and for coal-fired power stations to give three years' notice of planned closures.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg have flagged their intention to develop a version of the policy by year's end.

But coalition backbenchers led by former prime minister Tony Abbott and including many Nationals are rebelling, saying they do not want any more subsidies for renewables and government should support coal power.

Mr Shorten will say he is acutely aware of the coalition's one-seat majority in the lower house - a slim margin that means it cannot afford to put any of its MPs offside.

"I appreciate there are some conservatives in the parliament who will probably never vote for a clean energy target in any form," he will say.

"But Labor has 69 votes in the House of Representatives and we are ready to vote for a clean energy target."

Mr Shorten also intends to announce Labor wants to change the national electricity market rules to better help households and consumers, such as allowing them to sell power generated from rooftop solar back into the grid.

Labor will also lower the required return on investment from Clean Energy Finance Corporation loans to let it invest more in storage and organise Australia into a series of renewable energy zones.

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