National clean energy target announced

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Australia's just announced plans for a nationwide Clean Energy Target (CET) for 30,000 GWh of zero and low emission power annually by 2020 falls far short of the renewables industry's call for 20% green electricity by the same year. The criticism is levelled by the Clean Energy Council, a new group formed by the merger of the Australian Wind Energy Association and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. "The government's announcement falls between 14,752 GWh and 22,360 GWh short," it says, assuming that no fossil fuel plants equipped with carbon capture and storage technology are built between now and 2020. For its part the government believes CET will result in around 15% of electricity from all "clean energy." The plan is to introduce legislation for the CET next year, if the government survives a general election, with a view to the program kicking off by January 2010 at the latest. The CET will replace "the patchwork of existing and proposed state and territory schemes," says the government. To be based on the previous national Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET) framework, CET will broadly accommodate current commonwealth, state and territory targets, not improve on them, but it will cut "the red tape and costs facing energy retailers and other participants in the market that would otherwise have to deal with the multitude of regulatory schemes now emerging," says the government. It adds: "As a single national scheme, the measure will enable a smooth and efficient transition into the Australian Emissions Trading Scheme over the long term. The Clean Energy Council says it is "a positive step forward," but only if renewables development happens faster than under existing state government legislation.

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