Emissions-based target should replace RET, chief scientist says

AUSTRALIA: A report into Australia's energy security has recommended a shift from a renewable energy target (RET) to a clean energy target (CET), with a view to reduce the country's emissions.

Clean energy target would be technology neutral (pic: AGL)

The Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market by Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel was presented as a blueprint to optimise the country's electricity market.

"Our electricity system is entering an era where it must deal with changing priorities and evolving technologies. If the world around us is changing, we have to change with it. More of the same is not an option, we need to aim higher," Finkel said.

Among the proposals was to allow the current 33TWh RET to continue to its scheduled expiration in 2020 and replace it with a clean energy target thereafter.

The report said the CET would allow all electricity generators to receive incentives, based on the emissions produced and in a technology-neutral way.

This keeps the door open for Australia love of coal plants. The Finkel report said coal projects with carbon capture storage would be able to access the scheme.

"In addition to incentivising reliable generation into the market, a goal of the clean energy target is to lower long-term emissions. For example, a mix of wind, solar and coal generation would be equally acceptable as a mix of wind, solar and gas generation as long as the emissions reduction trajectory is achieved," the report said.

Industry association the Clean Energy Council (CEC) welcomed the review.

"Dr Finkel's report outlines a vast suite of policy and regulatory reforms necessary to modernise our energy system," said CEC chief executive Kane Thornton.

"Many of these reforms are long overdue. The blueprint sets the groundwork for Australia to be much smarter in how we manage the energy system, integrate these new technologies and take advantage of their very sophisticated capabilities."