Energy Networks Association argues against RET as households look to gas alternatives

The Australian solar industry is facing a new threat – this time from gas network operators who believe that incentives for rooftop solar and solar hot water if pushing their industry into a “death spiral’.

The Energy Networks Association is calling for the small scale renewable energy scheme to be disbanded because the certicates allocated to rooftop solar PV systems and solar hot water systems is “distorting” the market. It also wants the government’s million solar roof policy to be carefully reviewed.

The gas industry is arguing that it is facing the same threat as the electricity industry, but its exposure may be even greater because gas prices are rising sharply as the market surges to match the export prices from the LNG industry.

This is forcing households to look at alternatives to gas use – something that the gas networks say will force them to lift prices further to recoup their investment in pipelines, in turn pushing more consumers away from gas.

The electricity has made the same argument. Network operators in both commodities, along with generators and retailers that are also suffering from lower demand, are pushing to have solar incentives repealed.

“To reduce pressure on electricity prices, we should stop subsidising technologies that don’t need it,” ENA chairman John Bradley said. “Solar PV technology is now well established and is forecast to undergo significant growth without further subsidies.”

Bradley also said gas hot water systems -which provide significant emission reductions compared to the 4 million electric water heaters still in the market – are competing against subsidised heat pumps and solar hot water systems in distorted appliance markets.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson