Western Australia Unlikely To Reach Renewable Energy Target

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Less than a month after ending its solar feed in tariff for new applications, the Western Australian government has reportedly admitted the state may not hit its renewable energy target of 20% by 2020.

Giles Parkinson, writing for Climate Spectator, says according to the Australian Financial Review, the WA government has revealed state owned Synergy would be buying up to 450MW of renewables-sourced power by 2020, but this would only amount to approximately 12 percent of its power by that time. Synergy accounts for the vast majority of Western Australia’s electricity market.

Mr. Parkinson states this leaves Synergy and other electricity companies in Western Australia in a similar position with the choice of having to buy renewable energy certificates from projects in the eastern states, or pay a $65/MWh penalty for any shortfall.

Western Australia Energy Minister Peter Collier announced on August 1 the state’s feed in tariff  installation quota had been reached and suspended the program for new connections.

At the time, Minister Collier said even without a feed in tariff, households investing in solar power would still see a reasonable payback period and that Synergy and Horizon Power would continue buying surplus electricity fed into the grid from all residential renewable systems under the State Government’s Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme.

However, the end of the scheme did trigger a reduction in interest in solar power in Western Australia, with many households unlikely aware of substantial savings on electricity bills still to be had by installing solar panels even without the scheme.

According to figures generated by national solar solutions provider Energy Matters’ online solar quotes tool, an entry-level 1.44kW solar power system installed in Perth will return a financial benefit of approximately $468 annually under current arrangements in Western Australia.

Western Australians experienced another electricity price hike of around 5% in July, with more increases likely.