The Australian Solar Council has rejected a call by the Productivity Commission to abolish the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).
The Renewable Energy Target has been phenomenally successful in helping Australian families to cut their power bills and take action on climate change. Four million Australians now have solar panels or solar hot water on their roofs and this is delivering a powerful trifecta – slashing the wholesale cost of electricity, reducing energy demand and cutting carbon pollution. The SRES will be less than 1% of a residential power bill within 2 years.
We all know that many more Australians want to install solar panels and solar hot water, but the upfront cost of these systems remains a significant barrier. That is why the SRES is so important and must be continued.
Demand for solar PV has reduced significantly since the solar multiplier was reduced on 1 July, and there are no signs that demand is picking up. The last thing the solar industry needs is more uncertainty. The Australian Solar Council is looking for clear direction from the Climate Change Authority, which is currently reviewing the Renewable Energy Target, that the SRES is not under threat.
The Review of the Renewable Energy Target is a critical issue for the solar industry. Australia’s 4,200 installers and the thousands of other people who work in the multi-billion dollar solar industry will be looking for certainty from the Climate Change Authority.
The Australian Solar Council has called for the Renewable Energy Target (the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the SRES) to be maintained and increased and extended over time. There is no justification for a reduction in the LRET, given the continued uncertainty over carbon pricing and the need to build a strong low carbon economy. In fact, any reduction in the LRET would be inconsistent with the core objective of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 – to encourage additional generation of renewable energy. A reduction in the LRET would provide yet another barrier to the establishment of Big Solar plants in Australia, and would limit the diversity of renewable sources in this country.
The Australian Solar Council is actively engaged in the RET Review process and will also be making its opinions very clear to the Productivity Commission. We certainly endorse the view of Giles Parkinson of RenewEconomy that “until organisations such as the Productivity Commission get their mind around solar PV…then we cannot rely on them to make sensible recommendations”.