It seems that the two major parties, Coalition and Labor, are still no closer to a compromise regarding the future of the Renewable Energy Target. Coalition backbenchers are still pushing for the stripping away of the mechanism for large-scale solar projects and wind projects.
The Labor party has been repeatedly egged on by the Australian government to compromise over the RET which requires that 41,000 gigawatt hours of the country’s energy should come from renewable sources by 2020.
Labor has provided its clearest indication yet that it is willing to negotiate over the Renewable Energy Target, with opposition leader Bill Shorten. They called for the government to first put aside a review which calls for a significant winding back of the scheme.
Led by businessman Dick Warburton, this review found that the RET has been successful in boosting jobs and investments. However, the review also stated that it should be suspended until energy demands increased and that it should also be closed to new entrants.
There is no formal response from the government yet regarding this review. But it has already called on Labour to make concessions on its position that the Renewable Energy Target should remain intact.
Three parties, the Greens, the Palmer United party and Labor are all committed to the current RET. That means any attempt to change its provisions will be blocked in the Senate.
Referring to the review, Tony Abbott said that it was a “good document”, but hesitated in clearly defining the government’s official position.
“We are weighing the public response to that document and we will be having more to say about the renewable energy target in a few weeks’ time,” he says.
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With the RET requiring 41,000 gigawatt hours of the country’s energy to be sourced from renewable sources by 2020, this will result to 26% of energy production. Considering an overall drop in energy demand, this is higher than the original 20% target.
The Labor party could agree to a deal, said opposition leader Bill Shorten, but only if the coalition rejected the review issued by the team of Dick Warburton.
“If the prime minister wants to work with Labor to fix the mess he has created, he first has to rule out the recommendations in the Warburton review,” Shorten stated in the Australian Financial Review.
“That’s job one for Tony Abbott. This is the prime minister’s report with the industry and job-decimating recommendations he wanted. It belongs to the bin,” added Shorten.
A negotiated compromise will mean scaling back to the actual 20% target. It could also mean pushing back the target for large-scale solar projects and leaving small-scale production like rooftop solar panels in place.
Any revisions to the RET can mean disaster to the industry, warns the clean energy sector. The Australian government will be risking 20,000 jobs and around $15 billion in investments. At present, work on large-scale solar projects has almost grounded to a halt because of the uncertainty of RET’s future.