Protect the Renewable Energy Target

“Save on bills, save jobs, save the Renewable Energy Target and solar”

Why must we protect Australia’s Renewable Energy Target? Because slashing Australia’s renewable target will cost billions, push up power prices, and destabilise the electricity grid.


At the bottom line, this discussion circles around how much clean electricity we would like to have in Australia six years from now. 42,000 gigawatt-hours? – or just 26,000 gigawatt-hours?

The Renewable Energy Target is a scheme which aims to deliver the 2020 target of almost 42,000 gigawatt-hours of Australia’s energy through renewable resources.

The government has decided to put the target under review by a panel of experts, and considering the profile of the members in this review panel, several which are representatives of the fossil fuel industry, and with a chairman who has directly stated that he doesn’t believe climate change is real, and while also taking the various climate-ignoring initiatives of the government into account, it is expected that the renewables target is soon to be lowered or completely scrapped.

A report from Intelligent Energy Systems (IES), ‘2014 RET Review and its Impact on the National Electricity Market’ found that the winding back or scrapping of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target would set new-build energy generation back by 10 years, cost up to $10 billion in lost renewables investments – and, ironically, drive up power prices and destabilise the grid.

So what we ask of the government is to leave the Renewable Energy Target alone, because it works.

“Analysts at French based energy components company Schneider Electric have concluded that extending or expanding Australia’s renewable energy target would lead to lower electricity prices, lower carbon emissions and increased competition.”

Article in RenewEconomy by Giles Parkinson on 14 April 2014: ‘Schneider study finds boosting renewables will cut energy costs’

Solar costs to halve as gas prices surge

An interesting look at the future of solar pricing: Modelling commissioned by Clean Energy Council says average household would pay $50 less a year in 2020 under RET, while abolishing it means electricity bills will rise by $100 on average, within a decade.

» The Guardian:
Abolishing renewable energy target offers short-term gain, long-term pain

» RenewEconomy:
Solar costs to halve as gas prices surge

» Clean Energy Council:
Why we need the Renewable Energy Target
Australians understand that a strong renewable energy industry secures us a sustainable future. That’s why poll after poll shows that more than three-quarters of Australians support renewables.

“Save our Solar” says the Australian Solar Council. They’ve created this short video explaining what the government’s plans are for the RET.

20 percent? Come on!…
The target, which could result in some 20-25 percent of Australia’s energy coming from clean, renewable sources by 2020 is not even very ambitious.

Both Germany and Denmark, for instance, passed the 25-percent mark already in 2012. And the Australian Capital Territory is even more ambitiously heading for 90 percent renewables in 2020.

In 2013, a third of Denmark’s electricity came from wind power. The country’s targets are a 50 percent electricity share by 2020 – and 100 percent share by 2050.

Germany’s targets are at least 35 percent electricity share by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Germany’s electricity share had already reached a reported 25 percent in the first nine months of 2012. (Source:

We need to reduce emissions aggressively, and aiming for at least 30 percent and preferably 40 percent by 2020 would be getting Australia back on track.

Some countries are heading for 100 percent renewables already within the next decade, not only because of climate change, but also simply because harnessing the free energy from sun and wind is making very good economic sense.


“The RET Review is being run out of the Prime Minister’s office and its members have no great love for renewable energy so there’s a real threat it could recommend a cut in new wind energy of up to 40% (according to leading energy consulting firm, Reputex), returning us to a reliance on retired coal-fired generators.”
Victorian Wind Alliance


Victorian Wind Alliance’s RET Petition

Victorian Wind Alliance wants thousands of Australians to sign this petition in support of wind energy and the Renewable Energy Target (RET) so we can deliver it to the Prime Minister before he decides on the future of the Target.



Solar Citizen’s Renewable Energy Target petition

You can sign Solar Citizen’s petition to ask the federal government to protect the renewable energy target and ensure more solar, not less. More than 7,200 citizens had done so on 26 March 2014.



GetUp’s petition

GetUp writes: “It was created under the Howard Government and expanded under Labor. Since 2001 it’s enabled a whopping $20 billion in investment value into the Australian economy, created more than 24,000 new jobs and opened up the electricity market to increased competition and lower prices for consumers[1]. It’s the Renewable Energy Target, and new economic modelling shows that abolishing the Renewable Energy Target would actually increase electricity bills for consumers over time rather than reducing them. [2],[3]

So why on earth would anyone be lobbying the government to water it down?

In a nutshell, some of Australia’s biggest power companies want their market monopoly protected. Origin and Energy Australia have been gunning to have the target removed or watered down, whilst AGL, a previous supporter of the RET, have gone very quiet since they invested in a coal fired plant and coal seam gas. Thanks to their pressure there’s now an independent government review into the target’s future, and in the absence of public pressure, the big power companies are set to hoodwink decision-makers into making a disastrous decision. But, it’s not enough to simply protect the Renewable Energy Target from the dirty power companies, we need a stronger target to:

1. Grow our economy and create new jobs

2. Generate cheaper power and more options for consumers

3. Build a clean energy future and end the dirty power monopoly

The target is under attack from the big power companies because renewables are taking market share from coal and gas in the electricity market, as well as undercutting their profits at peak times. Renewables don’t need to be a huge percentage of the market to actually drive down the cost of electricity for everyone when demand is at its highest.

Richard Denniss from The Australia Institute explains:
“The main reason that electricity has been getting dearer is the overinvestment in poles and wires, and the fundamental inefficiency in the way that the national electricity market’s working.”[4]

If a handful of big energy companies succeed in getting the rules changed now, they’ll threaten billions of dollars in investment, thousands of Australian jobs and our future capacity to deliver smart, cost-effective reductions in carbon pollution – while restricting competition that is actually lowering electricity prices for all of us. And while there are a few smaller renewable retailers fighting the good fight on our behalf, they simply aren’t as powerful as the big 3. But, you can change that. Add your voice to the call for a stronger Renewable Energy Target that benefits all Australians:


Former Reserve Bank governor and Chair of the Federal Government Climate Change Authority Bernie Fraser puts it bluntly:
“Policymakers need to look beyond short-term economic considerations in the interests of some of the big companies to longer-term community interests. And that’s what governments are supposed to do, but unfortunately it’s not happening.”[4]

Right now households are paying less than $1 a week on average to support the transition to a cleaner energy mix, and energy market experts ROAM Consulting predict that if the target is dumped, Australian households will pay about $50 more for electricity up to 2020 and up to $140 more each year after that.[3] And while renewable energy is getting cheaper and cheaper each year, the costs of polluting energy sources are going up.

Australians already get it. Already millions of us – one in six – are powering our homes, businesses and farms with renewable power, as well as pumping clean energy back into the grid. Most live in rural and regional areas, or the ‘mortgage belt’ suburbs surrounding capital cities. Breaking 14 years of cross-party support for renewable energy now would threaten the livelihoods of thousands of wind and solar workers, be a kick in the guts for the businesses, large and small, that have invested in renewable energy and hurt the 5 million Australians who have invested in renewables through their superannuation. And, over time, cutting renewable energy will drive up energy prices for everyone.

We know the big three power giants have enjoyed a near monopoly over our power market. They’re cashed up and so far Origin and Energy Australia are fighting dirty. Now, we need to make sure they don’t also monopolise the policy debate over the future of a practical policy that’s giving Australians better power and more choice, driving down emissions and driving up billions of dollars in investment and jobs. Last time the Renewable Energy Target was under review, over 7,820 GetUp members made submissions, sending a strong, clear message to the government.

Add your voice so together we can make another powerful contribution towards Australia’s renewable economy:

Thanks for speaking up,
Paul and the GetUp team

PS: Let’s face it. Origin and Energy Australia could have led the way in the transition to renewable power, but instead they’re trying to water it down or kill it. Please don’t let them get away with it.

[1] Why we need the Renewable Energy Target. Clean Energy Council
[2] Explaining electricity markets to dummies. Climate Spectator 8 May, 2014.
[3] Fighting off a gas price spike. Business Spectator. 30 April, 2014.
[4] The Price of Power. ABC Radio National: Background Briefing. 27 April, 2014.”

ATA: Defend the RET

“The Renewable Energy Target (RET) has helped millions of Australian households install solar PV, solar hot water and hot water heat pumps and has generated millions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs throughout Australia.
Show your support for renewable energy by letting your MPs know that you, along with millions of Australians, want them to protect the RET so it can continue to build a future of renewable, clean energy in Australia.”

» The Alternative Technology Association:

ENN – 20 March 2014:
Renewable energy helps Scotland become one of the world’s wealthiest nations
Scotland’s control over a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and marine energy has helped it become one of the world’s wealthiest nations, according to new analysis released today.

Investors are leaving Australia – just as they did a decade ago

“The last time the Coalition brought the renewable energy industry to a halt, a decade ago, newly built manufacturing plants were closed, major international companies packed up shop, and even the locals moved their bulk of their operations overseas, and to greener pastures. That is playing out all over again.

“My members are looking at the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, France and some South American countries as having more stable investment environments for low-carbon opportunities,” said Nathan Fabian, the head of the Investor Group on Climate Change – citing the repeal of the carbon price and the likely demolition of the RET. Everyone agrees the large-scale renewable energy industry is at a standstill. The only bright light is the ACT’s 90 per cent renewables program, and the market for rooftop solar.”
By Giles Parkinson on 14 March 2014
» Read more:


Explaining the Renewable Energy Target

The Energy Supply Association of Australia explains the Renewable Energy Target in this way:

“The Australian Government has set a target for 20 per cent of the country’s electricity supply to be sourced from renewable energy by 2020. This policy requires that energy retailers and large energy users purchase some of their energy from renewable sources for which they are then granted a renewable energy certificate. One certificate is the equivalent of 1 megawatt hour of generation from a renewable energy source.

This renewable energy target (RET) is designed to increase the market share of renewable energy generation technologies by funding the difference between the average wholesale price of electricity and the cost of producing renewable energy. The renewable energy scheme has two parts; the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.”

» Continue reading:

» The Renewable Energy Target fact sheet (PDF, 2 pages)

» Australian Government – Climate Change Authority:
Performance of the Renewable Energy Target

» Yes 2 Renewables:
RET Watch: Review stalls projects worth $1b
“Close to $1 billion of renewable energy projects have been put on ice pending the outcome of the government’s Renewable Energy Target review,” reports the Australian Financial Review, ”as uncertainties over whether the ­target will be abolished stalk the ­industry and investors.”

» ABC News – 14 March 2014:
Fact file: How does the Renewable Energy Target affect your power bill?
The Federal Government has announced a review into the Renewable Energy Target that aims for 20 per cent of power drawn from renewables – like wind and solar – by 2020. One task given to the review is to determine whether the RET is pushing up the price of electricity.

» RenewEconomy – 12 March 2014:
RET cuts will slash green investment, destabilise grid, lift prices
Article by Sophie Vorrath

» Intelligent Energy Systems report: ‘2014 RET Review and its Impact on the National Electricity Market’ (PDF, 10 pages)

Embark – 21 February 2014:
The Renewable Energy Target Review 2014
On 17 February 2014 the Australian Government released the much anticipated terms of reference for an additional non-statutory review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET). Article by Taryn Lane

Clean Energy Council – February 2014:
Why we need the Renewable Energy Target
Australians understand that a strong renewable energy industry secures us a sustainable future. That’s why poll after poll shows that over 80 per cent of Australians support renewables.