ANU experts react to renewable energy target change

19 May 2015

Whilst the reduction in the 2020 Renewable Energy Target from 41,000 GWh to 33,000 GWh will slow decarbonisation of Australia's electricity sector, we are pleased the deadlock is over and that some certainty can now be given back to industry.

A number of leading ANU experts have responded to Environment Minister Greg Hunt announcement that the Federal Government has reached a bipartisan agreement to lower Australia's renewable energy target (RET) from 41,000 gigawatt hours to 33,000.

The RET originally intended to ensure 20 per cent of Australia's energy came from renewable sources by 2020 which. Mr Hunt said the 20 per cent target would still be reached under the new deal.

 

Professor Ken Baldwin, Director, ANU Energy Change Institute, ANU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences

"Whilst the reduction in the 2020 Renewable Energy Target from 41,000 GWh to 33,000 GWh will slow decarbonisation of Australia's electricity sector, we are pleased the deadlock is over and that some certainty can now be given back to industry.

"This will fast track the backlog of wind projects already stalled by the RET uncertainty, but may freeze out large-scale solar investment which, under the original target, might have become more competitive towards 2020. This is disappointing as the introduction of utility-scale solar, along with wind, via the RET has been projected to help keep electricity prices down through competition with incumbent fossil fuel generation."

Professor Janette Lindesay, Deputy Director, ANU Climate Change Institute, ANU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences

"The 33,000 GWh RET is demonstrably achievable using renewable technologies such as wind, solar and hydro and this agreement reduces uncertainty for the sector. However, we are concerned about the potential inclusion of old growth native forest as it is not replaceable and hence is not a genuine renewable energy source.

"With the RET deadlock over, our next priority is to ensure that we have policy certainty around Australia's emissions reduction trajectory post 2020 to ensure that Australia meets its international commitments to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees centigrade."

Associate Professor Frank Jotzo, Director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

"Australia's climate change policy desperately needs is a bipartisan approach. The compromise on the RET is one element of bipartisanship. When government withdrew its support for the RET in its previous form, investment in renewable energy in Australia came to a halt. Investors will only come back if policy settings look stable for the medium to long term. Today's compromise might succeed with that. It means less new renewable capacity being added to the system than originally legislated, but this is in the context of lower electricity demand.

"Adding renewable energy to the system and reducing electricity demand both have the same, desirable effects: less output from dirty power stations and therefore lower carbon emissions, and lower wholesale prices for electricity."

Dr Paul Burke, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

"The RET deal reduces uncertainty and will provide a boost to the renewable energy sector. The removal of the carbon price means that we now rely on the RET to do heavy lifting in terms of emissions reductions. Major weaknesses in the government's Direct Action scheme make the RET all the more important."