Why Renewable Energy?
Australia has some of the world's best renewable energy sources, many of which are already powering Australian homes and businesses. At the end of year 2010 Australia had 1,052 operating wind turbines spread over 52 wind farms. Making full use of our abundant renewable energy resources - like wind and solar - has the potential to meet Australia's growing energy needs in a clean and sustainable manner, as well as create new job opportunities and export markets for economic prosperity.
Governments around the world, including the United States and China, the world's biggest polluters, have agreed to limit the pollution of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so that average global temperature rise can be held below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which is broadly consistent with global concentrations of 450 parts per million1.
Australia has the highest carbon pollution per capita in the world. In 2009, according to latest available data, Australia emitted 565 million tonnes of carbon pollution making Australia the 15th most polluting country in the world2. The Australian Government has committed to reduce carbon pollution and to play our part in the global effort to manage climate change. The Government has committed to reduce carbon pollution by 5% from 2000 levels by 2020 irrespective of what other countries do, and by up to 25% depending on the scale of global action. For more information, please visit The Australian Government's website: www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au.
THE RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET SCHEME
The Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme is one of the key elements in The Government's Climate Change Plan. While policy uncertainty, the low price of renewable energy certificates and the financial crisis made it difficult for developers to commit to new projects in 2010, recent changes to the implementation of the RET, and introduction of the Australian Government's Climate Change Plan should go a long way towards returning stability to the industry.
The RET scheme started on 1 January 2010, and expands on the previous Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), which began in 2001. In June 2010, the Australian Parliament passed legislation to separate the RET into two parts – the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) – which came into force on 1 January 2011. Separating the two parts is intended to provide greater certainty for large-scale renewable energy projects and small-scale renewable energy systems by addressing the oversupply of certificates.
The rate of liability for LRET is established by the Renewable Power Percentage (RPP), which is used to determine how many large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) need to be surrendered each year. The RPP for the 2011 year is 5.62%. It is equivalent to 10.6 million LGCs and represents a proportion of total estimated electricity consumption for the 2011 year. For more information visit: www.orer.gov.au.
Today, wind power is supplying over 5,100 GWh annually, which represents around 2% of Australia's national electricity consumption.The RET is crucial in supporting investment in the renewable energy industry and it provides the main incentive for wind power development in Australia, unlocking an expected investment of more than AUD 20 billion over the next decade. As it is the most cost effective large-scale renewable energy, much of this target is expected to be met with investment in wind energy.
1 - IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
2 - "Securing a Clean Energy Future", The Australian Government's Climate Change Plan, Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, July 2011.