Call for green power

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Customer demand is becoming an increasingly significant factor in driving investment in renewable energy in Australia. The number of people buying government accredited green power in Australia has increased by 12% in the last year, with sales reaching 405 GWh, reports News South Wales (NSW) energy minister Kim Yeadon. "Green Power sales in the last financial year account for enough one hundred per cent renewable energy to power 55,000 households," he says. "This has offset 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of removing 89,000 cars off the road for a year."

Releasing the latest audit results for the National Green Power Accreditation Program, Yeadon pointed out that more than 130 newly accredited green power generators have been approved in the last four years, with a combined capacity of 330 MW installed or proposed. "Voluntary customer participation from 64,000 households and over 2900 businesses has driven investment in over 60 new renewable energy projects in NSW alone, including Hampton Wind Park," the minister says.

Retailer Origin Energy agrees, saying customer demand is "definitely" a driver for development. The company was awarded the South Australian government's contract to supply electricity to more than 4000 state and local government sites over the next three years and is now offering customers the first 100% wind product, GreenEarth Plus. The launch, it points out, was directly linked to "the active promotion of demand management programs."

The Australian Wind Energy Association suggests, however, that the demand is coming from the greater community rather than individuals who tick the box on their energy bill for renewable energy. In addition, "politicians are becoming very aware that there is a growing groundswell for clean energy," it says.

Meanwhile, a recent poll commissioned by Greenpeace Australia found that 83% of Australians are willing to pay an extra $3.50 on their monthly electricity bill if that would mean Australia reaching a 10% renewable energy target. "This clear response is the strongest indication yet that Australians are willing to pay more for clean, renewable energy," says Catherine Fitzpatrick from the organisation. "It also indicates that the public is ahead of the government in understanding the need to address climate change and move to clean energy sources."

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