Is Kevin Rudd about to undertake the third major remake of his renewable energy scheme in a year?
In June 2009 Labor finally reworked the Howard era Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, extending it’s 9500GWh by 2010 to 45,000GWh by 2020, despite a promise in 2007 of quick action.
In February the Government scrapped that belated plan, only weeks after some elements of it had come into effect in January, and produced a new one that split the RET between large scale renewable projects like wind farms, and small scale projects like roof top solar power generators, hot water systems, and heat pumps. It was forced to make the move after its generous subsidies for roof top schemes flooded the Renewable Energy Certificate market, making the big and more expensive projects unviable.
The new scheme forces big wholesale buyers of electricity to source 41,000GWh of electricity by 2020 from large scale projects, effective from January next year, while the small scale systems have a separate nominal, but in fact open ended, 4000GWh target. Because power buyers will be banned from sourcing any of their target from the small projects, while being forced to buy all the RECS they generate, the Government hopes the price of RECS for big end of town renewable generators will be driven high enough to make projects viable.
While the Government announcement of the new scheme in February suggested that the Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme - as it applied for solar hot water systems and heat pumps - would begin immediately, application forms for accessing the program are still not available, and public servants seem bogged down in dealing with final applications under the previous scheme, which was recently shut down suddenly along with the home insulation program.
Submissions to a discussion paper on some aspects of implementing the revised scheme have closed but Senator Boswell said the Prime Minister’s statement this week that he would unveil “the biggest renewable energy program the country has ever seen” raises the spectre of yet another re-think.
“Is the Prime Minister trying to serve up his February re-make of last year’s plan as lamb, or is there a third plan on the way?
“Given that the Prime Minister has said all the public servants who were working on the now indefinitely delayed CPRS will switch across to his latest renewable plans suggests the latter is the case.
“This scheme has already been victim to the sort of ad hocery and poor planning that’s visible in just about every other program this Government has attempted to implement, and yet another revamp of it would be another reason why Mr Rudd is totally unelectable for a second term. He can’t seem to get anything right, ever, even after two or three goes.”