Could you provide us with a brief introduction to the Clean Energy Council?

The Clean Energy Council is the peak industry body for clean energy distributors, which include energy efficiency and renewable energy providers. The Clean Energy Council serves its 550 members and looks after their interests on a global scale. The organization is solely focused on energy efficiency and renewable energy and has no affiliation with gas, nuclear or coal industries.

What are some of the main objectives that the Clean Energy Council is currently involved with?

The Clean Energy Council is currently focused on the review of the government’s renewable energy targets. The Renewable Energy Target is the single piece of legislation that affects all of their membership and is the most important policy for the renewable energy industry in Australia. Policy reviews create uncertainty throughout the entire industry, so it is crucial that the Clean Energy Council ensures that all of their members remain unscathed. The organization is focused on the possible impact of any potential changes on the industry and their members.

Why is the amount of power generated in Australia from renewable energy sources so low compared to other countries?

The power generated from renewable energy in Australia is 10.5%, which is due to the late implementation of renewable energy targets and policies to drive the deployment of renewable energy in Australia. The original target was introduced in 2000 for 9,500 GW, which was 2% of electricity generation. Since 2004, the industry has developed slowly because of the lack of growth targets. In addition, Australia has its energy systems based around fossil fuels; the country has hundreds of years of coal and gas reserves, which has resulted in less of a focus on renewable energy.

Is the target for 20% of power generation to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2020 achievable?

Australia has more than enough resources in the form of solar, wind and wave resources that will allow Australia to meet the target. However, the challenge is from the uncertainty regarding regulatory issues and state planning policies that are not particularly favourable to renewable energy resources in general. The federal government sets targets for renewable energy resources, although the delivery of these targets is affected by the policies that the state government control. There is tension between the federal and state governments surrounding the delivery of the energy targets, which requires the corporation of the state, creating another challenge over the next few years.

What has been the public reaction to renewable energy targets in Australia?

The deployment of renewable energy needs to be competitive, although the average Australian household is currently paying $100 annually towards the Renewable Energy Target, which should decrease to $60 by 2020. There is evidence to demonstrate that renewable energy in the energy business is keeping wholesale energy prices lower than what they would otherwise be. The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics carries out the Australian Energy Technology Assessment every two years that examines the cost of 59 different generation technologies. The 2012 review found that two out of the five lowest cost technologies to Australia were renewable energy sources, which included onshore wind. By 2030, the lowest cost electricity generation technologies in Australia will be renewable.

What type of investment is needed from the private sector into Australia?

There has been A$18 billion investment into the Australian renewable energy sector from large international players in the power sector. By 2030, it is expected that there will be over A$30 billion of investment made into the renewable energy sector in Australia, which will benefit the general economy.

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