Renewable Energy Target – Cost Vs. Value (Updated)

The Renewable Energy Target provides substantial bang for buck – it’s why it should be left untouched. Some quick facts about the RET.

What does the RET cost?

For what it delivers, Australia’s Renewable Energy Target costs little. For example, in New South Wales, around 5% of an average power bill can be attributed to the Renewable Energy Target. In Queensland, it’s around 3.5%. Other states fall somewhere between those figures.

If left untouched, the RET will cost even less in the years ahead.  An analysis carried out earlier this year by REC Agents Association (RAA) found the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) component of the Renewable Energy Target  is expected to halve over the next two years to less than 1% of a power bill.

What are the benefits of the RET?

The Renewable Energy Target has:

reduced wholesale electricity prices by as much as $10 a megawatt hour.

– added more than 14 gigawatts of new, clean power generating capacity to Australia’s energy mix

– generated more than $18.5 billion in investment

– created more than 30,000 jobs

– played a significant role in carbon emissions reductions efforts

– reduced reliance on increasingly expensive gas

– alleviated the need for more “gold-plating” of electricity network infrastructure

supported the purchase of solar power systems by more than 1 million households

– helped create a more decentralised and robust energy network

What will happen if the RET is abolished?

– Thousands of jobs will be lost

– It will have little impact on reducing power prices. In fact, Australians will pay billions more for electricity.

– Billions of dollars of investment will be lost

– It will be more difficult and expensive for Australia to meet emissions targets
– Solar power systems will cost substantially more
– It will create a heavier reliance on gas, which could triple in price this decade

– Australia will have a greater reliance on polluting coal

– Dumping the RET would result in 34.7 million extra tonnes of carbon emissions in the atmosphere by 2020.

What will happen if the RET remains unchanged?

– Approximately 30,000 more jobs will be created

– Another ~$18.7 billion in investment will occur

– More home-grown related technological innovation

– Gas-fired power generation is expected to be approximately 13% less

– Coal-fired power generation is expected to be approximately 12% less

Why the attacks on the Renewable Energy Target?

If the RET is such a great thing, then why all the argy-bargy, furphies and myths surrounding it?

It’s said change causes stress as it moves boundaries – and in the case of the Australian energy sector, truckloads of cash as well. The (still heavily subsidised) fossil fuel sector does not want its decades long gravy train ride to come to a halt, or even to slow down; so all sorts of measures are being used in an attempt to discredit the RET and influence those who can change it.

With all the benefits of keeping the Renewable Energy Target as it is, it would seem to be a no-brainer decision to do so – but given the powerful forces at work and the make-up of the RET review panel; only time will tell if sanity will prevail – or if the “predetermined and biased outcome” feared by some will eventuate.