National Issues

July 20, 2015

The government is committed to a Renewable Energy Target (RET) that will encourage sustainable growth in both small and large scale renewable energy in Australia.
Our agreement with Labor is to legislate a Large Scale Renewable Energy Target of 33,000 gigawatt hours by 2020 – this will result in more than 23% Australia’s electricity being derived from renewable sources by 2020.
There will be no change to household solar (the Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme). 

I support the continued growth of Australia’s renewable energy sector.

Australia is on target to source 23.5 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020, but this can only happen through the continued growth of the renewable energy sector.
Uptake of small-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar panels and wind energy will continue to grow in Australia as demand for these technologies is driven by the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The RET is a mandated target, which means that it has to be met.

There is bipartisan agreement around the RET to 2020 and it will continue to encourage increased investment across all of the relevant renewable energy technologies.

There is strong support for household solar as part of the RET. About 1.3 million households and businesses have already installed the technology.

Latest estimates suggest between 10,000 and 12,000 gigawatt hours will be produced by small-scale solar by 2020 - between two and three times what was intended and predicted at the time the RET was created.

The Australian Government, with the states and territories, supports solar panel systems, small-scale wind systems, small-scale hydro systems, solar water heaters and air source heat pumps through established subsidy programs.

As has been reported recently, a consultation process is underway on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) investment mandate. The government will not pre-empt the outcome of this process.

Under Section 64 of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 the Finance Minister and Treasurer can issue an investment mandate to the Board to provide direction on the performance of the CEFC’s investment functions.

The responsible Ministers must consult with the CEFC Board on the investment mandate. Once finalised, the Investment Mandate is tabled in Parliament.

The Minister for Finance has stated it is the government’s desire the CEFC continue to perform its original policy intent to invest in new and emerging technologies, where the private sector doesn’t spontaneously invest.

This way the CFEC would not compete with the private sector in relation to mature technologies, such as established wind farm projects that have already attracted mainstream finance.

An example of the emerging technologies is large-scale solar projects, or so-called “Big Solar”, which have lagged in Australia and are yet to reach their potential.

On March 5, 2015, the Solar Council Australia published on its website a statement saying it would “redouble its efforts to see Big Solar built in Australia”. Other experts have noted Australia needs a strong mix of renewable energy sources, not just limited to wind energy and roof-top solar.

There is an expectation from the solar industry that the Australian Government increases its investment in large-solar projects, along with other emerging technologies such as energy storage capabilities, run-of-river, wave energy and geothermal.

Investment in these emerging renewable energy technologies is consistent with the CEFC’s original policy intent to support projects that struggle to attract mainstream finance.

An agreement on this approach was reached with Senate crossbenches in June and made public in a letter to the Senate, ensuring the process remained transparent.

There will be no review of the Renewable Energy Target until 2020. This will give the renewable energy industry the certainty it needs to grow.
Instead, the Clean Energy Regulator will provide an annual statement to Parliament on how the scheme is tracking towards the 2020 target, and any impact the RET is having on electricity prices.
There will be a 100 percent exemption for Emissions Intensive Trade-Exposed industries from costs associated with the RET. This protects industry and jobs.
The government is committed to the inclusion of wood waste as an eligible form of renewable energy generation and this will be included in legislation.

We will work co-operatively with the Opposition on a bipartisan basis to resolve any issues which may arise with the operation of the RET through to 2020.

The agreement reached with Labor will ensure renewables continue to play an important role in Australia’s energy mix in the future.


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