Australia sticks with Renewable Energy Target

Australia’s federal government today said it will maintain the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) at its current level, resisting strong pressure from political opponents and providing a boost to its clean-power sector.

The decision to keep the goal at a minimum of 20% of power from renewables by 2020 was expected, following a recommendation by independent watchdog the Climate Change Authority in December.

But the government, which reviews the target periodically, had faced pressure to water-down the target from opponents who claimed it would drive up power bills, and from some energy-intensive industries.

Scaling back the large-scale renewable power target of 41 terawatt hours of annual generation by the end of the decade could undermine investor confidence in the sector, said climate change minister Greg Combet.

Combet claims the RET, in conjunction with other policies such as carbon pricing and government-backed funding agencies, will help keep up the momentum of renewables growth in Australia.

Utility AGL – a leading developer of renewables in Australia – welcomed the decision.

AGL said: “The RET has had strong bipartisan support since its introduction by the Howard government, and has been a great success story with billions already invested in large-scale renewable generation projects.”

AGL pointed to research suggesting that power prices could fall by 10% in real terms by 2020, even with significant investment in renewables.