Macfarlane backs Warburton on RET review

THE federal government has backed the Warburton Review of the Renewable Energy Target to cut the target to

Richard Collins

"It won't be a 27% renewable energy target, it will be 20% renewable energy target," said Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane yesterday.

It will nearly decrease the amount of renewable energy generated in 2020, from 41,000 gigawatt hours to around 26,000GWh.

It has also gone with Warburton's recommendation of annual reviews of the target against electricity demand, which the renewables industry has criticised as undermining certainty for investors.

Macfarlane said "there will be no change to the household photovoltaic scheme", though Climate Spectator speculated this could see commercial rooftop projects kicked up to the large scale RET, further undermining utility scale projects.

The government is also keen to exempt trade-exposed emissions-intensive industries and extend the aluminium industry's exemption from 70% to a full 100%.

Australian Conservation Foundation climate change program manager Victoria McKenzie-McHarg urged the government to "listen to the vast majority of Australians who want less pollution and more clean energy, not to big polluters who want a free ride”

Despite the announcement, the Climate Change Authority is required under legislation to complete a review of the RET by the end of the year. The Clean Energy Council said the rolling reviews had reduced to sector to a standstill, with investment in 2014 about 70% lower than the year before.

Macfarlane has begun talks with Labor, but Opposition leader Bill Shorten earlier today signalling the discussions would be robust, particularly around the 20% target.