Media Releases | 20th Aug, 2009

Federal Renewable Energy Target becomes law

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Environment Victoria today welcomed the passage of the Renewable Energy Target (RET) through the Federal Parliament, although were disappointed with a number of aspects of the legislation.

Environment Victoria Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said the new laws were a step in the right direction.

“Over the next 11 years Australia will move from having approximately six per cent of its electricity coming from renewable energy to 20 per cent. That’s a strong step forward that will deliver substantial investment in clean energy industries and greater emissions reductions than any previous law passed in Australia,” he said.

“The RET will create new businesses and jobs that have a vested interest in increasing the level of support for renewable energy.

“We saw this with the Howard Government’s two per cent renewable energy target, and although it was a very small target, it built the foundations for a vocal constituency demanding more support for renewable energy.”

Mr Wakeham said Environment Victoria was however disappointed with a number of weaknesses and design flaws in the RET legislation.

“Unfortunately under the new RET laws investment in new projects will not happen until the second half of next decade,” he said.

“This is for two reasons, firstly, the RET ramps up slowly to 20 per cent, and secondly, the existence of the ‘phantom solar credits’ means that the target will be met in the early years through renewable energy certificates that do not correspond with actual renewable energy generation.

“This has the potential to become a major problem that will delay investment in new large scale renewable energy projects. This problem should be fixed by the Rudd Government as the regulations for the legislation are developed.

“We are also disappointed that once again big polluters are able to avoid responsibility as a result of the final legislation. We are concerned that the inclusion of methane gas capture and biomass from native forests undermines the scheme’s integrity.

“We’d also prefer solar water heating was supported by other policies as it has the potential to dominate the RET and doesn’t actually generate electricity.”

“While we welcome progress in terms of a higher target Australia can and should deliver much more renewable energy than 20% by 2020. Looking forward to the 2010 election we should be looking to catch up to Germany, Spain and other renewable leaders by doubling the renewable energy target to 90,000 GWh by 2020.

For further information or comment: Mark Wakeham on 0439 700 501

Environment Victoria and ATA’s briefing on RET