Australia falls short of sunny Scotland on renewable energy use.

A decision today by the Rudd Government to prematurely end the $8,000 solar PV rebate under the Solar Homes and Communities Plan (SHCP) delivers more uncertainty for the renewable energy industry, according to the Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA).

A decision today by the Rudd Government to prematurely end the $8,000 solar PV rebate under the Solar Homes and Communities Plan (SHCP) delivers more uncertainty for the renewable energy industry, according to the Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA).


'As an industry chamber interested in sustainability, we accept that changes to the scheme were necessary to meet the Government's fiscal responsibilities,' says Dr Ray Wills, WA SEA Chief Executive.

'We also agree the need for change is understandable given the strong uptake and with the price of panels falling on strengthening world production at the same time the Australian dollar is regaining value, an $8000 rebate for a one kilowatt installation is now too generous, hence reviewing the measure is sensible.'

'But the Rudd Government has swapped to the proposed Solar Credits scheme under the Renewable Energy Target (RET) legislation - an uncertain measure that offers no guarantee of on-going support because it is yet to pass Parliament. If the Bill is not passed by Parliament, what will be the fate of the promised support?' asks Dr Wills.

'The changes add a new element of uncertainty to the market at a time when industry growth could be helping Australia through the current economic turmoil.'

'A simpler move in transition would have been to increase the size of the system eligible for the rebate to a 1.5 kilowatt system - this would have eased demand, increased the amount of solar being installed, increased price competition, and increased the return to Government on its investment.'

'While we have seen undoubtedly strongly growing support from the Federal Government for renewable energy uptake in Australia, this is off of a very low base and we are still below the level of uptake of renewable energy in the rest of the OECD nations.'

For example, all of Scotland has a population of 5.2 million and total electricity capacity of around 11 GW, with 19% from renewable sources at the end of 2008, including 70 MW of installed solar. Australia with the best renewable energy resources in the world and a population of 22 million has a total electricity capacity around 50 GW with 4% use from renewable sources, and a total of 34 MW solar actually installed (23,000 systems) as at April 2009. For Australia to match sunny Scotland's per capita investment in solar, we would need to install 140 MW of solar capacity to be on a par.

'Other nations are moving aggressively to develop their lesser renewable energy resources. As the nation with the world's best renewable energy resources, the Australian Government needs to become even more ambitious in the support for renewable energy generation.'




Media Contact:
Dr Ray Wills 0430 365 607

Editors notes:
1. Media release from Ministers Wong and Garrett available here: http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/garrett/2009/mr20090609.html
2. Based on the report ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF PV SYSTEMS IN OECD CITIES for rooftop-mounted PV systems, the range of all OECD cities examined, the best case for energy return on installation of all OECD cities is in Perth, and the worst case in Edinburgh, UK. http://www.iea-pvps.org/products/pap10_061.htm
3. From the end of 2004 to the end of 2008, around the world solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity increased 600 per cent to more than 16 gigawatts (GW), wind power capacity increased 250 per cent to 121 GW, and total power capacity from new renewables increased 75 per cent to 280 GW. During the same period, solar heating capacity doubled to 145 gigawatts-thermal (GWth), while biodiesel production increased 600 per cent to 12 billion litres per year and ethanol production doubled to 67 billion litres per year - REN21. 2009. (Renewables Global Status Report: 2009 Update(Paris: REN21 Secretariat). http://www.ren21.net/pdf/RE_GSR_2009_update.pdf)
4. The Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA) is a chamber of businesses boasting a growing membership of 250 industry members from a diversity of businesses, and now the largest state-based industry body of its kind in Australia. www.wasea.com.au.

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