Australia’s biggest utilities and coal generators could push for another review of the federal renewable energy target, if the newly re-elected Coalition government is presented with a “workable” majority of supporters in the Senate.
The Australian Solar Council tweeted last Thursday that it was “hearing rumours” of a push for another review of the RET – reduced to 33,000GWh by 2020 as a result of the last review, which also caused a three-year investmentdrought – after the election.
The renewable energy industry believes it is inevitable if the Coalition gains sufficient numbers in the House, and with enough sympathetic supporters in the Senate to overturn any objections from Labor and the Greens.
Labor has proposed a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, which the Coalition has described as “economically irresponsible”. The Greens propose an even higher target, of 90 per cent by 2030.
The Nick Xenophon Team, which could get three or four Senate seats, also proposes 50 per cent renewables by 2030, but does not support wind energy – a position that may make it impossible to meet the RET if it had influence over policy.
The rumours of a renewed challenge to the RET come as new polling shows that voters expect minor parties to push the government into more ambitious renewable energy targets, rather than smaller or delayed ones.
The polling, commissioned by Solar Citizens and conducted by The Centre for Applied Political Psychology (CAPP), demonstrated that if independents and minor parties hold the balance of power in the Senate, a large majority of voters expect them to support an orderly shift to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2030.
They also want the minor parties to protect the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. To cut its funding by $1.3 billion, as the Coalition proposes, or by $1 billion as Labor proposes, requires legislation to be passed by the Senate.
The survey of 3,000 people recorded overwhelming levels of support amongst voters for a wide number of solar and renewable energy policies.
© 2016 Solar Choice Pty Ltd