John Grimes of the Solar Council has come out and said that the Australian government wants to kill investment for the Renewable Energy Target and that recent events are just a natural progression due to the uncertainty surrounding the RET.
Ian Macfarlane, the Federal Industry Minister, hasn’t helped to diffuse the situation, reportedly telling the renewable energy industry that the government’s latest RET proposal is a “take it or leave it” offer.
In the latest round of talks involving unions representatives and other authorities from the renewable energy industry in March, Ian Macfarlane said the government would not change its stated objective of 32,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy production by 2020.
Renewable energy industry still at odds with government
This figure represents a significant drop from the existing large scale target of 41,000 gigawatt hours. Both the renewable energy industry and the Labor Party said this number is totally unacceptable.
The breakdown in talks last March have resulted in the inability of the government and the opposition to reach a deal which could end the drawn-out saga that started in 2014 with the RET review conducted by Warburton.
If the Labor Party continues to not accept the reduced renewable energy target, Ian Macfarlane and current Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, have reportedly said that they will seek the support of the crossbench.
Labor Environment Spokesman claims proposed objective is far below what is required
However, Environment Spokesman for Labor, Mark Butler has said the opposition was not prepared to reduce the figure below the mid to high 30,000 range, saying that this was the “minimum viable position” for the renewable energy industry.
“I don’t know what the current position of every crossbencher is but in the past it would seem – based on the comments they’ve made – that it would be very difficult for the government to cobble together the votes they need to put a 32,000 gigawatt hour target through the Parliament,” stated Butler.
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He mentioned that Labor would support a “very ambitious” renewable energy policy in the next federal election.
“We say that a target in the mid to high 30,000 range is important for the period between now and 2020,” said Butler. “We obviously want also to start talking to the renewable energy industry and other stakeholders as well as the Australian community about what we do after 2020 as we continue to build our clean energy sources,” he explained.
CEC Chief Executive remains hopeful for the future of renewable industry
Kane Thornton, Clean Energy Council Chief Executive said he remained optimistic that a bipartisan deal could be agreed even with the existing stalemate.
“We’re encouraged by the fact the government and Labor remain committed to resolving the issue,” Thornton said. “Clearly there’s some way to go but we remain optimistic,” he added.
To justify his position, Macfarlane said that if the reduced of 32,000 is combined with the output from the small scale solar scheme, they would still deliver a total output of 45,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy production by 2020.
However, John Grimes of the Australian Solar Council is not convinced. Grimes has also claimed that his organization was shut out of the talks held in March. “This is not a process and the end point is perpetual uncertainty,” he lamented.
Photo courtesy of Engineers Australia on Flickr