The independent review of the Renewable Energy Target has been released, proposing a number of suggestions to reduce the cost of the scheme and its impact on the energy market.

From the very outset, the reviewers state their intention to find ways of minimising the impact of renewable energy on the more common forms of electricity generation.

In the 24 hours since its release, the RET review has been slammed for favouring fossil-fuel-based energy systems and marginalising the need for and benefit from renewable sources.

The current target seeks to gather at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity, or 41,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) would come from renewable sources by 2020. The target would then increase to 45,000 GWh of additional renewable generation in 2020, staying at that level until 2030.

The suggestions for reforming the RET include;

  • moving to a ‘real 20 per cent’ reduction (where the amount of non-renewable reduction is linked to actual demand, rather than a set figure)
  • closing the scheme and its subsidies to new entrants (‘grandfathering’)
  • abolishing concessions for rooftop solar installation entirely
  • reinstating native forest wood waste as a renewable energy source
  • removing the requirement for statutory reviews of the scheme
  • isolating projects that receive support under the RET from eligibility to receive further assistance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation or the Australian Renewable Energy Agency

The Federal Government may be able to add to its record of becoming the first country to install and then repeal a carbon market by accepting the recommendations. Australia could then become the a world leader in abolishing or reducing renewable energy targets.

Several key member of the Senate still say they will block any move to reduce Australia’s efforts to cut harmful emissions and move to sustainable source of energy, but the uncertainty has already been enough to kill investment in several large scale renewable projects.

While federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt admits that “the RET has underpinned investment in large and small scale renewable energy generation”, he says that maintaining a “robust and reliable” energy market so that “households and businesses continue to have access to affordable power” remains the focus of the Government’s determination.

A response to the report is expected in coming weeks.