Australia keeps key renewables target

AUSTRALIA: The wind industry has welcomed the government's decision to retain the country's renewable energy target (RET).

Origin wanted a RET reduction despite owning the Cullerin wind farm (pictured)
Origin wanted a RET reduction despite owning the Cullerin wind farm (pictured)

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The decision follows a recommendation by the Climate Change Authority, which reviews the RET every two years. The target requires 20% of Australia's electricity supply to come from renewable energy sources by 2020. Large-scale renewables have a target to produce 41,000GWh by 2020.

Some power companies had been calling for the RET to be reduced. They argue that falling electricity demand means that the 20% target will be exceeded, leading to higher energy bills for consumers, they argue.

This view was backed by Origin Energy, which is a major player in the gas sector, but also has a large portfolio of renewable energy projects, including a 3GW wind pipeline.

The government also accepted a recommendation that reviews of the RET would occur every four years instead of the current two. But this requires legislation. The opposition has pledged to hold another review of the RET within six months if it is elected in September.

Lane Crockett, general manager at renewable energy generator Pacific Hydro, said that the RET had been reviewed "ad nauseum" over the past decade. "The RET will not only deliver significant emission abatement but will also play a role in shielding the economy from the volatility of international energy price fluctuations."

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