Time to end politics and paralysis over renewable power Media Release

Mar 21, 2013 - 10:37am

The Climate Institute today welcomed the Government’s support for the independent Climate Change Authority’s recommendation that the Renewable Energy Target (RET) should remain set at current 2020 levels and urged the Parliament move the next review to no earlier than 2016. 

“Despite years of stop-start policy, the renewable energy target is helping to clean up the electricity sector and transform power generation in Australia,” said John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute. “But although we are on track to achieve the target, the industry can’t survive much more chopping and changing.” 

The RET, in combination with the carbon price, energy efficiency measures and falling demand has contributed to seven months of continuously falling carbon emissions from electricity since July  2012. 

The Climate Change Authority’s RET review has recommended the fixed large-scale target of 41,000 GWh remain unchanged, and that reviews of the RET be reduced in frequency from the current two-yearly intervals to four-year intervals to help provide stability for investors. 

“Every time there is a review of the policy there is an investment strike in clean energy,” said Connor. “Coalition and other suggestions of yet another review in 2014 will stymie investment in clean energy, slow the necessary transformation of the sector and ultimately increase costs to consumers.” 

Independent modelling for the Climate Change Authority indicates that keeping the renewable energy target in its current form would cost the average consumer $15/year (30cents/week) over the years to 2030. For this investment, the renewable target will reduce Australia’s carbon pollution by 217 million tonnes – more than the annual emissions from Australia’s entire electricity fleet. 

“It’s worth noting that calls from some major vested interests to cut the target focus on the costs of the RET but haven’t factored in costs of uncertainty or the long-term costs of fossil fuel dependence,” said  Connor. “Consumers would ultimately pay for higher gas and carbon costs, as well as for the higher risk premiums resulting from the impact of policy changes on the sector.” 

Analysis by AGL found that these factors more than outweigh the tiny benefits of reducing the RET. 

“The target enables us to make better use of our natural wind and solar resources, supports development of new industries and skills and provides a hedge against rising gas prices and global carbon costs,” said Connor. “The Renewable Energy Target is supported by the carbon laws, which make high emission energy less competitive and directly fund clean energy projects through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.” 

“We urge the Parliament to improve policy predictability in the energy sector by maintaining the large-scale renewable target in its current form and deferring the next scheme review until 2016. The time for playing politics with the power sector should come to an end.” 

For more information  
John Connor | CEO, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299
Kristina Stefanova | Communications Director, The Climate Institute | 02 8239 6299

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