Government proposes new RET

Industry minister Ian Macfarlane webTHE Federal Government has proposed to set the Renewable Energy Target (RET) at more than 30,000 gigawatt hours of baseline power by 2020, bowing to pressure from the sector.

Last year the government proposed reducing the RET from 41,000gwh by 2020 to 26,000gwh, which it said was a truer representation of the target’s original goal of 20 per cent of Australia’s 2020 energy production.

However the planned changes have remained deadlocked for more than 12 months, with the Labor and Greens parties opposed to substantial cuts to the target.

Last month Industry minister Ian Macfarlane said the government had extended a new offer to the renewable energy sector, which he confirmed was above 30,000gwh.

“I’ve offered [the industry] a number and I’ve offered them a guarantee that this will be the last review before 2020,” he told Sky News.

“The offer that’s been made is based not only on sound policy, but on the reality of where renewable energy is in Australia and that is that we are seeing a significant growth in rooftop and small scale solar which has to be taken into consideration.

“So they’ve got an offer, they can think about it for as long as they like, because until they come to an agreement, the scheme will continue untouched.”

However an agreement may still be a while away; in early March, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Labor had rejected the new target.

Clean Energy Council chief executive told Fairfax Media the reported figure of 31,000gwh was too much of a cut from original target and would not be accepted by industry.

In a statement released in late-February, shadow Climate Change minister Mark Butler said Labor was willing to consider a minor reduction in the RET, but would not support a proposal that spelt the end of the renewable energy industry.