The Federal Government yesterday decided to maintain the Renewable Energy Target to ensure at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from sources such as solar and wind power by 2020.
The decision was part of the Australian Government response to the Climate Change Authority’s Renewable Energy Target Review Final Report.
“Arguments to reduce or cap renewable energy at 20 per cent of generation in 2020 ignore the need to reduce the emissions-intensity of Australia’s electricity sector so that we remain competitive as the world moves to clean energy,” read part of a statement from Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet’s office.
Grassroots renewables group 100% Renewable welcomed the government’s announcement to accept many of the findings of the Climate Change Authority’s Renewable Energy Review, and called on the Coalition to follow suit.
“While the RET has helped millions of Aussies take control of their energy bills by installing solar, there are still millions more who want to do the same,” said 100% Renewable National Director Lindsay Soutar.
The Sustainable Energy Association of Australia (SEA) said it was a positive outcome for the industry and as a mechanism to continue to reduce Australia’s emissions.
“This shows that the Government recognises the importance of policy stability, which will allow the sector to attract the level of investment necessary to meet the target,” SEA Chief Executive Kirsten Rose .
Clean Energy Council Deputy Chief Executive Kane Thornton said common sense had prevailed.
“The Federal Government has acted to lock in current and future investments in Australian clean energy and Australian jobs, by leaving the nuts and bolts of the scheme in place.”
However, the Government has agreed with a recommendation that the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme; which assists households and businesses in installing solar power systems, should be phased out by reducing certificated deeming so that renewable energy generation is not rewarded after 2030.
“The steady phase-out path from 2017 signals the expectation that less support will be needed in the future as technology costs decline and carbon prices rise, and also allows time for the industry to plan and prepare.”
A concern raised based on precedent is that once a phase out date has been set for solar incentives, it is often fast-tracked.
While the Government also agreed not to open up the accreditation function to bodies other than the Clean Energy Council at this point in time, it will keep the issue under active consideration.
The Government accepted 28 of the Climate Change Authority’s recommended changes to the RET, agreed in principle to 3 and rejected 3.
The Government’s full response to the Renewable Energy Target Review Final Report can be viewed here (PDF).