Unhappy Anniversary! A Year Of RET Wrangling

CEC - renewable energy target review

Yesterday marked 12 months since the Federal Government launched its review of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. It’s an anniversary not being celebrated by the renewables industry.

The Clean Energy Council has highlighted the damage the impasse is creating within the sector – particularly in relation to large-scale renewables.

“We have seen investment in large-scale renewable energy cut by almost 90 per cent. We have seen many of the sector’s 21,000 employees already lose their jobs,” said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

“This uncertainty has damaged investments and spooked investors, with many of them losing confidence in Australia as a safe investment destination.”

A nation so rich in renewable energy resources could and should be leading the world – but since the review commenced, investment in large scale renewables has dropped off  to the point it is lagging behind developing countries such as Panama, Honduras and Myanmar.

“The Renewable Energy Target has no impact on the budget, and the government’s own review of the policy showed that the best outcome for household power bills would be to leave the target as-is,” Mr Thornton said.

“Now is the time for the government to end the impasse and send a strong, positive signal to the rest of the world – Australia is open for business in renewable energy.”

There may be some solar powered light at the end of the coal-black tunnel – a little dim perhaps, but light nonetheless.

The Abbott Government had appeared hell-bent on reducing the current legislated target of 41,000 GWh to around 26 – 27,000GWh; even though it had committed to the legislated target in the lead-up to the last Federal Election.

However, rumour has it that the government’s position may have changed and it will now entertain the idea of a low 30,000 gigawatt-hour (GWh) range by 2020, possibly as high as 32,500GWh.

This is still far short of Labor’s position – a target somewhere in the mid to high 30,000GWh range.

“Today the renewable energy industry calls on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to follow through on his pledge to deliver ‘good government’ for Australians and resolve the Renewable Energy Target review,” said Mr.Thornton.

The Abbott Government’s position on renewable energy and its love affair with coal have been widely criticised – even from beyond our shores. Former US Energy Secretary Steven Chu had this to say in December last year:

“I think the leaders in Australia are right now opting to make the cost of electricity more expensive for its citizens. Is that a failure? Yes.”