Wholesale purchasers of electricity in Australia are buying more renewable energy than ever before, according to the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER), the authority overseeing implementation of the government's mandatory renewable energy target (MRET). Under MRET, electricity retailers must show they have met their renewable energy target, which in 2002 was 0.62% of electricity, by buying renewable energy certificates (RECs) from generators. Alternatively they can declare any shortfalls to ORER and pay a penalty. A three year period of grace is allowed for redeeming shortfalls by surrendering additional RECs. A REC represents 1 MWh, which can be from solar, wind, hydro or landfill gas sources. "We have seen a marked increase in companies choosing to meet their targets by using RECs rather than through making shortfall payments. In 2002 over 99 per cent of compliance has been through the surrender of RECs and the industry is to be congratulated on its clear support for renewable electricity," regulator David Rossiter says. "If this year's trend is anything to go by I expect even more shortfalls to be redeemed from RECs." The target for 2003 is 0.88% of electricity or 1.8 million RECs. There are over 2.45 million RECs currently available for surrender.
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