RET review hoped to boost confidence in the renewable sector

The renewable energy industry has welcomed the start of the Abbot Government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target, saying the scheme’s benefits could now be decisively demonstrated and critics’ misleading claims debunked.

The formal review of Australia’s 20 per cent renewable energy target will be headed by Dick Warburton, who has expressed skepticism about mainstream climate change in the past.

The review’s Terms of Reference state a broad approach to investigation, including examining the social and environmental impacts of the scheme.

Clean Energy Council chief executive officer David Green said the clean energy industry is keen to show the positive impact of a stable target.

“We relish the opportunity to demonstrate the $18 billion value that the existing Renewable Energy Target represents for our economy and also for the nation to show current and future investors that Australia is open for business,” he said.

“Prime Minister Tony Abbott obviously appreciates all this, saying ‘renewable energy makes a lot of sense’, while also acknowledging the Government’s need to avoid creating sovereign risk by respecting decisions businesses have made in good faith.”

Analysts including the Australian Energy Market Commission have estimated the cost of the Renewable Energy Target at just 3 to 5 per cent of power bills.

“Every review of the Renewable Energy Target to date has shown it is doing what it is meant to – delivering clean energy such as solar, wind, bioenergy and hydro at the lowest possible cost to consumers, while providing thousands of jobs and significant investment across Australia,” Mr Green said.

“This is all the more important when we consider the main alternative – gas – is predicted to triple in price this decade, according to the Australian Industry Group.

“Without renewables, these price hikes will flow onto the power bills of Australian businesses and households.”

Mr Green said the Renewable Energy Target had been one of Australia’s most frequently-scrutinised policies, as legislation currently requires a review of the policy every two years.

“The industry is looking forward to proving its case on the benefits of the current Renewable Energy Target so the two-yearly review requirement is removed, providing investors with the confidence they need to support clean energy projects,” he said.

Renewable energy company Pacific Hydro has also welcomed the review, with executive manager of external affairs Andrew Richards saying without the target, Australia will increasingly have to rely on gas for electricity generation.

“Gas is predicted to treble in cost throughout the next decade putting more pressure on business and families,” Mr Green said.

“The Renewable Energy Target keeps wholesale prices down, helps to abate carbon emissions at relatively low cost and delivers jobs and investment in regional areas that need them most.

“During the review process we look forward to sharing our experience in developing and operating renewable energy projects in the last 20 years with both the Renewable Energy Target review panel and the broader community.”