Australia RET compromise backed by Labor

AUSTRALIA: The opposition Labor party said it was willing to compromise on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) in a bid to restart the country's faltering industry.

Verve Energy's Albany wind project in Western Australia
Verve Energy's Albany wind project in Western Australia

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The RET is currently aiming to produce 45TWh from renewable energy sources by 2020, which would equal approximately 20% of Australia's projected energy demand.

The Australian coalition government, led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has been threatening to abolish or cut the RET following its biennial review. The government, opposition parties and the industry have been in a negotiation deadlock for several months.

The opposition Labor party has now backed the Clean Energy Council's (CEC) suggested compromise of 33.5TWh. The trade association said: "The industry accepts that some level of compromise is necessary in any political negotiation, and this figure represents the mid-point between the original positions of the government and the opposition."

Uncertainty over the future of the target has all but dried up the country's wind energy pipeline. The CEC, claims investment in renewable energy has fallen 88% since the government set up the review.

CEC chief executive Kane Thornton cited the decision by banking group Santander to sell its only Australian wind project due to the uncertainty to demonstrate the need for compromise. Santander refused to comment on the proposed sale when contacted by Windpower Monthly.

Manufacturer Vestas has supported the compromise saying it is a "reasonable and necessary" proposal. Managing Director of Vestas Australia, Danny Nielsen said: "Bipartisan political support must be urgently restored to create the long-term business certainty required to protect jobs and allow major renewable energy investments to proceed."

Senvion Australia CEO Chris Judge added: "The RET review has dragged on for over a year, resulting in significant damage to investor confidence.  If a reduction in the RET to 33,500 GWh is the only way to achieve bipartisan support for renewables in Australia, then we can see no other way forward for the clean energy industry."

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