By Giles Parkinson on 12 May 2015
The Australian renewable energy industry finds itself back at square one after Labor said there would be no deal on a reduced renewable energy target if the Coalition government insisted on another review in 2016.
Labor also opposes another last-minute change proposed by the Coalition on Friday, the inclusion of native wood waste burning into the RET scheme, even though it agrees that the number – 33,000GWh – is a basis for agreement.
“This deal cannot proceed unless government drops the reckless idea of re-establishing two-year reviews,” shadow climate change minister Mark Butler told journalists on Tuesday.
Butler said it was puzzling that the Coalition had put the two-year reviews back on the table at the last minute, considering that the relevant ministers recognised this was destroying investor confidence.
“Investors will not put money on the table if they think that the whole scheme is going to be reviewed next year,” Butler said.
Butler said the Labor caucus today had decided that 33,000GWh was the basis for an agreement that could get the industry to build again after an effective 18-month investment freeze.
Butler even borrowed the Coalition rhetoric to say that such an outcome – cutting the large-scale target from 41,000GWh to 33,000GWh – would deliver a renewable share of 25 per cent.
This is only reached after adding back in rooftop solar to the target, which had previously been separated. It also includes double counting, because much of the rooftop solar output is consumed onsite and acts to reduce demand from the grid.
As RenewEconomy reported on Friday and on Monday, the renewable energy industry has been blindsided by the last-minute inclusion of the two-year review, which came after ministers Macfarlane and Hunt had promised on repeated occasions to remove.
Ironically, Labor could have avoided the whole imbroglio if it had enacted on the recommendations of the Climate Change Authority in 2012, which included making a four-year review timetable, rather than two-year, to provide certainty.
That recommendation was the only one that Labor did not impose. A review next year would be the fourth since the Coalition was elected 18 months ago.
Butler also said Labor opposed the inclusion of native wood waste into the RET. Analysts have said including native wood waste would likely reduced the amount of wind and solar plants built under the scheme, and have questioned whether the process is, indeed, renewable.
Comment is being sought from the Coalition.