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Renewable Energy Target survives its review

25th Mar 2013

In significant news for the solar energy industry, the government has reaffirmed its commitment to the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The Climate Change Authority, an independent advisory, recommended against the government lowering the target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020 in its last review.

This decision to maintain the RET has been particularly welcomed by the Australian Solar Council, who believe it will boost investor confidence in the industry.

"The Renewable Energy Target has been an extraordinary success," said John Grimes,chief executive of the Australian Solar Council.

"More than four million Australians now have solar on their roofs thanks to the Renewable Energy Target."

A March 21 press release from minister for climate change and energy efficiency Greg Combet says that the government's decision to maintain the current RET will ensure the 20 per cent target remains the absolute minimum, so the future is left open for improvements for even more innovation and improvement.

Mr Combet also explains that to reduce or cap the renewable energy target at 20 per cent by 2020 would be ignoring the need for the electricity sector's emissions to be reduced. Considering other countries in the world are moving increasingly towards clean energy Australia needs to remain competitive with this.

The Climate Change Authority reported that reducing the RET would increase carbon pollution by 119 million tonnes over the scheme's life. It also predicted that it would undermine existing and proposed renewable energy initiatives and investments in Australia.

Benefits reported by the Clean Energy Council include $18.5 billion in new investments as a result of the target, with the potential for $18.7 further billion dollars more if the policy is remains in its current form.

As well as this, the current RET is scheduled to result in 12 per cent less coal-fired generation and 13 per cent less gas-fired generation.

Wholesale energy prices have even lowered by $10 megawatts per hour due to the scheme.

The RET originated in 2001 through the Howard Government and was then increased in 2009. The scheme comes under review every two years to assess progress and make recommendations.

The last review was from the Climate Change Authority in December 2012 that recommended no significant changes to the scheme. The government was required to respond within six months of the report.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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