THURSDAY 05 MARCH, 2009 |
Australia's Solar Credits Program Controversy Deepens
With the Australian government's $8,000
to end in June and then to be followed by the new Solar
, the latter is coming under increasing scrutiny.
While the current residential rebate is means tested, the Solar Credits program
will be open to just about everyone - home owners and business alike. The
program has great potential to see a massive uptake of small scale solar power
around the country; building what would effectively be a huge distributed
However, nothing is ever as it seems and in late January the Alternative
Technology Association detailed its concerns about "phantom
" being issued under the new program.
From July, home owners and businesses that install solar
will be awarded with five times the current amount of Renewable
Energy Certificates (RECs)
that usually accompany the equipment. This will
allow system owners with enough RECs to recoup up to $7000 by selling their RECs
through a registered agent, which is usually the company that supplies the
equipment. The certificates are often bought by electricity companies who can
then count the RECs against their own renewable energy targets.
The Association says the additional Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) issued
under the program will not equate to real clean energy production and will
therefore impact on Australia's Renewable
Energy Target (RET)
of 20% by 2020.
Reported in The
yesterday, a spokesperson from Moreland Energy Foundation is quoted as
saying "We would have to recommend that people not claim the rebate
available to them for solar, or just not install solar at all. And that is a
horrible situation for an organisation like ours to be in."
If such an approach were taken by home owners and businesses on a large scale,
some say it could have serious knock-on effects for the growing Australian solar
industry; ranging from suppliers of equipment to local installers who depend on residential
grid connect solar
installations to make a living. With the Australian
economy facing a recession, such an approach may be less than desirable as it
could translate to a loss of jobs, impact on local research and development and
off overseas investors
Some industry commentators have said that given penalising the solar industry
and home owners for government policy will likely be counter-productive, a more
effective way to address the situation is to exert pressure upon the government
to ensure that the additional Renewable Energy Certificates are excluded from
being counted towards the RET - and with less than 4 months before the program
is rolled out; there's no time to waste.
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