Huge renewable energy opportunities for Australia

An international proponent of the world renewable energy industry says that Australia has vast opportunities for growth in the renewable sector, despite spending cuts to climate initiatives in the Federal Budget.

Hans-Josef Fell said it was vital that governments put in place laws providing a positive framework for growth in renewable technologies, such as solar, wind and ocean current hydropower. This would become increasingly important as the price of fossil fuel skyrockets in the next decade.

Mr Fell is the politician who oversaw Germany’s introduction of renewable power sources laws in 2000, which were aimed at increasing the uptake of renewable energy in that country, in particular solar energy, by 2010. The result has been very good for Germany’s renewable companies.

“In 2000 in Germany, we set a target to double the share of renewable energy by 2010 – from six to 12 per cent,” he told a Perth meeting organised by the WA Sustainable Energy Association.

“Nearly no one believed that this was achievable. But at the end of 2007, we reached 14 per cent, a much higher figure in a much shorter time.”

Mr Fell said the next ten years would be absolutely vital for Australia’s renewable energy sector, and that measures like gross feed-in tariffs – which pay homes installed with solar and wind power a premium for the energy they produce – were essential to stimulate the market. 

“We need for some technologies – especially PV, solar thermal power stations or ocean energy – a good political framework to help them to reduce the cost for technology to come into mass production,” he said.

“The best framework is a feed-in tariff. A feed-in tariff gives the private capital the secure (framework) for profitable investment.”

Mr Fell’s call comes at a time when Australia’s solar panel industry is suffering under changes to the national solar rebate scheme. Households earning above $100,000 per annum have been excluded from receiving the solar rebate, drastically cutting the number of solar energy systems in Australian homes.