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Renewable energy laws pass Australia's parliament

Renewable energy laws pass Australia's parliament(By Rob Taylor via Reuters)Australia's government struck agreement with opponents on Wednesday for 20

percent of the country's energy to come from renewable sources by 2020,

unlocking a $22 billion investment rush and reviving hopes of a later

emissions trade deal.In a peace offering in its row with the government over climate-change

policy, the conservative opposition controlling the largest Senate vote

bloc said it had reached agreement with Climate Minister Penny Wong after

days of negotiations."Today's decision is a victory for common sense, it's a victory for the

environment and it's a victory for renewable energy," conservative

environment spokesman Greg Hunt told reporters after striking the deal.While the Senate will not formally vote until Thursday on the deal, the

agreement raised hopes of a follow-on in November when controversial

emissions trade laws will return to parliament, where they were rejected by

the Senate last week."I urge those opposite who have become supporters of renewable energy in

recent times to join the bigger fight, the bigger fight against climate

change, and I urge them to support when the government next presents the

carbon pollution reduction scheme," Wong told senators.The conservatives joined with Greens and independent senators to block the

emissions trade scheme, which aims to cut carbon emissions by between 5 and

25 percent by 2020, warning of its impact on jobs, the economy and the

environment.Rudd could have the option of calling a snap election if the Senate rejects

the emissions laws a second time. [ID:nSYD16743]Kim Beazley, a long-time former leader of Rudd's centre-left Labor in

opposition, said earlier on Wednesday that he had no doubt an early poll

was in the offing if the emissions impasse continued ahead of scheduled

elections late next year."Kevin Rudd does not want an early election. I think at the end of the day

he'll have to have one," Beazley told local television. The renewable laws

will come into effect on January 1 next year and target production of

45,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, or 20 percent of Australian energy,

over the next decade. Electricity retailers will have to offer renewable

power.The target matches one set by the European Union two years ago and which

the European Commission hopes will create 2.8 million new jobs and boost

European GDP.Renewable wind, solar, hydro and geothermal energy currently account for

only 5 percent of Australian power consumption. Clean energy firms

estimated renewable target delays were costing A$2 million $1.65 million) a

week due to stalled investment.Companies with exposure to wind projects include Transfield Services

Infrastructure (TSI.AX) and Viridis Clean Energy (VIR.AX), while AGL Energy

AGK.AU and Orgin Energy (ORG.AX) have prioritised renewable energy.Wong announced compensation for electricity intensive exporters, such as

aluminium smelters Alcoa Inc. (AA.N), Alumina Ltd (AWC.AX) and Hydro

Aluminium (NHY.OL), and said emissions scheme buffers would be copied to

renewables.The interim arrangements would cover industries until the more

controversial carbon emissions trade laws, and associated compensation

schemes, were passed or rejected by the parliament sometime after November

16.Hunt said the conservatives agreed to the renewable laws after extracting

more effective compensation promises for the aluminium, silicon and

newsprint industries, as well as a lifeline for food processors previously

left out of assistance.They also convinced the government to classify coal seam methane gas -- a

coal mining waste product -- as a renewable energy source in a transitional

measure that Wong said would not count toward the 20 percent renewable

target."Even the Mad Hatter could never have imagined a world in which fossil

fuels are actually renewable energy sources," environment group Greenpeace

said of the methane inclusion.Green se