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Renewable energy target hangs in the balance

28th Feb 2013

Australia's renewable energy target (RET) of 20 per cent of domestic electricity generation coming from renewable sources by 2020 has received support from both the federal government and the opposition.

However, the opposition's intentions have been called into question due to a recent comment by their climate change spokesperson, Greg Hunt.

Mr Hunt stated at the Australian Summer Study on Energy Efficiency and Decentralised Energy conference in Sydney on February 27 that while at the moment there are no plans to revisit the RET, "we will want to see where energy consumption is heading in 2014".

While this is in no way an admission that the opposition may be interested in changing the RET, it does leave room for interpretation that perhaps they will consider it later down the track. This is something that stirs fear in the renewable energy industry.

In a speech given in June last year, energy and resources minister Martin Ferguson commented on the state of energy in Australia, saying that the overall demand is not growing at the same rate it used to.

For instance, as electricity prices have increased, households have stopped using so much power in an effort to save costs. Paired with greater energy efficiency due to developments in technology and the rise in the use of rooftop solar panels, in 2012 in some areas such as Victoria, household energy consumption dropped by ten per cent.

When there is uncertainty regarding government policy and regulation, investment in clean energy can suffer, as no-one wants to take a financial risk.

It will be no surprise if Mr Hunt's comment has put renewable energy advocates on edge, as to reach the current RET target more than 1,000 MW of renewable capacity from such sources as wind farms and solar power must be installed.

Here's hoping solar power systems maintain their growing popularity, even with this governmental uncertainty.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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