Aussie renewable energy industry speaks out against PM’s anti-RET intentions

Australia’s renewable energy industry has hit back at reports the Prime Minister is pushing for the Renewable Energy Target to be abolished, warning that this would leave the nation “dead dog last” in the low carbon race.

“This is a line in the sand moment for the solar industry,” said Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes, in response to Monday’s Australian Financial Review report that the RET Review panel had been “instructed” by Tony Abbott to look into ways for the scheme to be folded.

“If the Government goes ahead with its plans to axe the RET, demand for solar will fall 40-50 per cent straight away,” Grimes said on Tuesday.

The ASC, which has launched a Save Solar Campaign in response to the news, also warns that it would cause thousands of Australians to lose their jobs, as “hundreds, if not thousands” of small businesses shut up shop.”Big solar projects will be stopped dead in their tracks,” said Grimes on Monday, calling for donations to the campaign. “Australia will fail to take advantage of being the sunburnt country.”

The Clean Energy Council also responded to the news, branding the reported push to abolish the RET a “reckless” idea, and “economic vandalism”.

“Any proposal to slash the RET would …be out of touch with 99 per cent of the community, particularly when the review’s own economic modelling shows that slashing the policy would result in no savings on power bills,” said acting CEC chief Kane Thornton. The Investor Group on Climate Change also issued a response saying any change to the RET would put billions of dollars of renewable energy investment at risk and reduce the superannuation returns of millions of Australians.

“If the Government seeks to weaken the RET, Australia will continue its move from being one of the most advanced markets for low carbon investment in the world, to being dead dog last,” said IGCC chief Nathan Fabian.

“Renewable energy investments with long-term horizons of over 20 years were undertaken on the basis that the RET was here to stay,” Fabian said.

Chris Judd, head of Senvion Australia – which has invested over $2.5 billion in 18 wind farms nationwide – said there were problems with Australia’s power network, but having too much renewables wasn’t one of them.

“Australia is at an energy crossroads, with gas set to double or triple in price, concern over shale mining and how to treat energy intensive industries; these are all critical issues that need to be addressed with a broader vision for energy,” Judd said.

“The whole point of the RET was to drive Australia’s transition to a less polluting energy market over a long period of time – so the transition was smooth and without any shocks.

“Any change to that position – which the Coalition went to the polls on in 2013 – would be pulling the rug out from under business.”

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson