CCA: RET on track to achieve goals

20th Dec 2012

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

That's what the Climate Change Authority (CCA) has said about the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme.

The CCA has been reviewing the RET this year and released its final report yesterday (December 19).

And on the whole, it likes what it sees. CCA chair Bernie Fraser said the authority "believes the scheme is progressing towards its objectives".

Those objectives are to encourage the deployment of renewable energy and to cut greenhouse gas emissions as a result.

More specifically, the RET hopes to have 20 per cent of Australian domestic electricity generation coming from renewable sources.

A contentious aspect of the scheme has been the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) for 2020.

This is set at 41,000 GWh, though revised electricity demand forecasts indicate that keeping this target could mean that renewable energy generation accounts for more than 20 per cent in 2020.

Submissions to the review numbered over 8,000, and many had something to say about what should be done with the LRET.

Some argued for increasing the target, some for decreasing it, others for leaving it where it is, and still others for getting rid of it altogether.

What does the CCA think? According to Mr Fraser, any change to the target "would entail significant risks".

"In particular, lowering the target would risk undermining investor confidence and increasing risk premiums for prospective renewable energy projects," he explained.

When it comes to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) however, the CCA recommended a number of cost saving measures.

These include lowering the threshold of solar PV units in the SRES from 100 kW to, for example, 10 kW.

Mr Fraser says doing so would reduce the likelihood of a surge in commercial solar rooftop installations driving electricity prices up.

The authority also proposed a cut-off date of 2030 for deeming certificates. It recommends reducing the deeming period by one year every year from 2017 as a way of phasing out the SRES that was "consistent with the transitional nature of the RET".

Renew Economy editor Giles Parkinson says the CCA's recommendations for the small-scale scheme will result in "continued uncertainty" for the solar industry.

In particular, he said that lowering the threshold of the SRES would raise a few eyebrows, pushing what were once small-scale developments into the LRET.

"This is likely to be a controversial issue for both solar developers and wind farm developers, because it means that "commercial-scale" solar will now compete with large-scale wind farms," said Mr Parkinson.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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