Could Labor deploy ‘reverse auctions’ for renewables on the national scale?

The Australian Labor Party could use “reverse auctions” to help meet a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030 if it wins power in the federal election later this year.

Climate change spokesman Mark Butler told the Sydney Environment Institute that the ALP has yet to decide on the mechanisms it will need to reach its target, and will commission advice if it is elected. But he said simply extending or expanding the current RET may not be the chosen path.

“That mechanism may not well be a simple extension of the current renewable energy target,” Butler said in speech notes provided to RenewEconomy.

“Overseas experience over the last several years reveals a strong shift to different mechanisms, a shift that we are very keen to explore.”

Reverse auctions in both the ACT and overseas have encouraged project developers to bid the lowest possible price. In return, they get a guaranteed income for a fixed term, say 15 or 20 years.

Butler says that while the ALP policy is unformed, at least it has ambition. “The Turnbull Government has no plan at all for renewable energy beyond 2020,” he said.

“When we asked Malcolm Turnbull in Question Time whether his Government will join with Labor to make the 50 per cent renewables target a bipartisan commitment ….  he described our policy as “reckless” and announced that his Government will focus on other abatement opportunities, to use his words such as ‘clean coal’. ”

Butler also said the ALP would focus on policies to ensure an “orderly exit” of coal fired generators, and for more ambitious energy productivity and energy efficiency policies. Again, those policies have yet to be decided.

© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson