Australian microrenewable subsidies damaging large scale renewables

Efforts to make small-scale renewable energy a more attractive to home owners are having the unintended effect of stalling the development of large-scale renewables in Australia, say critics.

Trade body the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) has hit out at government plans for an additional AU$1,000 subsidy for home-based photovoltaic and solar hot water systems, arguing that these technologies do little to combat climate change and harm the expansion of the renewable energy industry as a whole.

Under Australia’s Renewable Energy Target regulations, energy generated from any renewables project earns Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) which are then sold to raise money to fund large scale projects.

The ATA argues that the current incentives are leading to a glut of RECs, driving down the price and therefore funding for the large projects.

“ATA welcomes additional support for household solar installations, but slapping on an extra $1000 rebate will mean that small-scale solar technologies will continue to dominate the renewable energy market, at the exclusion of the large-scale wind and solar developments,” said Damien Moyse, energy policy manager for ATA.

“It could easily stunt any further growth in Australia’s large-scale renewable energy industry.”

ATA has been calling on both parties to remove small-scale solar installations from the RET and support households to install solar with a Gross Feed-in Tariff.

“A national Gross Feed-in Tariff for small-scale solar technology is the most effective way to support communities to install renewable energy technology, while ensuring the REC price is high enough to support large-scale renewable energy projects.”

“[This] ill conceived policy will only reduce our chances of ever reaching the Renewable Energy Target of 20% clean energy production by 2020, and put the final nail in the renewable energy industry’s coffin.”

Sam Bond

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