The Insider’s Guide to the Renewable Energy Target Update

The Renewable Energy Target is about increasing and improving the use of renewable energy sources over time. This in turn will decrease our heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Unfortunately, our leaders have taken it upon themselves to make this a political football, being a constant topic of debate. Here’s a recent history from an insider’s perspective:

  • The Renew Economy publishes the article “Abbott Government says war on renewable not over yet” 1 in late February, 2015
    • According to Finance Minister Matthius Cormann, the federal government wants to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Council (CEFC).
    • The CEFC will create a Profit for the Abbott Government. With their current budget dilemmas, we need to ask why do they want to terminate the CEFC.
  • 11 November, 2014, ABC News reports on the Abbott Government providing $4 Billion in Subsidies to fossil fuel companies.
  • Yet in the last year, due to the instability they have created around the renewable energy industry, the investment into renewable dropped a massive 88% 2
  • The Abbott Government’s Industry Minister, Ian McFarlane stated in the last days of February that Renewable Energy Target discussions had stalled
  • Then a week later, Environment Minister Greg Hunt claims that fresh talks with the Clean Energy Council were hopeful and an agreement was within reach.
  • Yesterday, in a joint media release both the Industry Leader and the Environment Minister, resign to the fact that there will be no changes to the small-scale solar section of the Renewable Energy target.

As we can see, there has been a lot of uncertainty around the Renewable Energy Target. From an insider’s viewpoint, this latest media release is actually the first piece of good news for the solar industry in the last 13 months. The media release also conceded the requirement of a regular Renewable Energy Target review every two years would be removed. For home owners and residential solar installers, this is good news. It also provides some stability for the industry.

solar energy in Australia

However, the tension and strain around the Renewable Energy Target remains when it comes to the large scale section. When the Renewable Energy Target was first established, the viable target was for renewable energy sources like solar to contribute 41,000 gigawatt hours of power. This has been a point of contention with the Abbott government. Initially, they pushed for to 27,000 gigawatts. In this latest round of discussions, the Abbott Government proposed 31,000 gigawatts – this is a figure that was rejected by the opposition.

It is due to this ongoing debate around targeted gigawatt hours and other Renewable Energy Target components that have created a lot of chaos and instability for the renewable industry, including solar and wind. This political grandstanding and futility has seen a drop of 88% in investment. From an insider standpoint, there is a lot of questions still be answered. The longer these questions go unanswered, the more we risk the livelihoods of over 18,000 workers. We aren’t the only ones asking questions…

Well over 9 months ago, 20 backbenchers approached Environment Minister, Greg Hunt and Industry Minister, Ian MacFarlane to get a result with the Renewable Energy Target. Like all of us within the renewable and solar industries, the backbenchers are still waiting on a final result.

The Renewable Energy Target is an important endeavour that benefits us today and into the future. We need to hold the Abbott Government to account in regards to this. This is a vital and growing industry that is helping people reduce the cost of living. Hopefully this information has given you an inside look into the risk being taken with some 18,000 jobs and 4,000 businesses.



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