Reactions to RET review final report mixed

21st Dec 2012

As expected, the release of the final report on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) review was met with mixed reactions this week.

Many had argued for the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) to be decreased. This is because doing so shouldn't affect the ability of the scheme to reach its goal of 20 per cent of energy production coming from renewable sources by 2020.

The Climate Change Authority (CCA) judged however, that any change to the current target of 41,000 GWh risked denting investor confidence, and opted to keep it at that level.

Quick to applaud this recommendation was the Australian Solar Council (ASC).

Chief executive of the ASC John Grimes was disappointed with changes proposed for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), but thought the CCA was right to keep the LRET.

"The recommendation to maintain the RET is a defeat for the powerful forces that wanted to take Australia backwards to a time when we produced less clean energy," said Mr Grimes.

Renew Economy editor Giles Parkinson said the CCA's move to retain the LRET at its current target meant utility-scale wind and solar projects could now "get down to business".

As for commercial-scale solar however, Mr Parkinson was less hopeful.

In particular, he said the proposal to lower the threshold for the SRES from 100 kW to 10 kW was "likely to be a controversial issue".

This is because it could result in commercial solar developers having to compete with large-scale wind farms.

But of course, not everyone was satisfied with just leaving the LRET at its current level.

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) expressed disappointment that the authority did not recommend increasing renewable energy targets.

DEA spokesperson professor David Shearman said that with evidence for the acceleration of climate change, not taking a more aggressive route to tackle it was a mistake.

"The decision not to increase renewable energy targets is a failure of ambition and leadership," said Mr Shearman, in a statement issued this week (December 19).

And the DEA wasn't just talking about extreme weather conditions.

"Pollution from coal mining and coal-fired power stations causes disease of the heart and lungs in many Australians and this makes coal an expensive energy source when all health costs are included," said Mr Shearman.

The DEA believes that boosting generation from renewable sources like solar power systems and wind farms should be seen as "a key preventative health strategy".

For Mr Shearman, the issue is simple: "Climate change is a health issue that requires urgent action."

Posted by Bob Dawson

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