FAQs on the Renewable Energy Target

Need more information on the renewable energy target, solar and how it all works? You've come to the right place!

Here are some facts and talking points on the RET:

What is the Renewable Energy Target?

The renewable energy target is a scheme that is designed to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia's electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. The target is set at 41,000 gigawatt hours of electricity.

How did the Renewable Energy Target help me go solar?

If you have solar, the renewable energy target helped you make that move. You might not have even known it - the RET provided a subsidy from the Federal Government that lowered the cost of your installation.

How is the RET important for helping others go solar?

Over 3.5 million Australians have solar on their roof, and that number is growing. Millions many more families want to make the move, but without a strong renewable energy target, it will be more expensive to go solar. In such a sunny country, solar just makes sense – producing not only clean energy but also helping families take power over their bills. We need to continue this growth.

Who are the Australians that have solar?

Over 3.5 million Australians are living with solar on their roof. That’s over 1.1 million homes powered by the sun. Support for solar cuts across all demographics and political affiliations. In fact, most Australians who have solar are in rural and regional areas, or postcodes where median incomes are low.[1]

How many jobs does the RET create?

Keeping the RET will help the growing solar industry. In 2013, over 18,000 Australians were employed in the solar industry across 4,000 small to big solar business. These are local jobs that are all across the country - including in remote and regional areas across the country. A recent study found that scrapping the RET could cost up to 7,000 jobs.[2] Additionally, there are over 7,000 jobs in the growing wind industry that would come under threat if the RET were to change.[3]

How much investment is the RET bringing to Australia?

The Renewable Energy Target has already attracted $18.5 billion in new investment to Australia by national and international companies in large solar and wind projects because these investors feel confident in our renewables policies.[4] Changing the RET would mean a reduced investment in Australia - which means less jobs, less industry and much more.

But do Australians want more Renewable Energy?

Australians overwhelmingly support more renewables. Poll after poll shows that Australians want more renewables - not less.  In fact, a recent poll showed that 64% of Australians support the renewable energy target.[5] The RET is a real, tangible way for us to meet the needs of the Australian people.

How does the RET impact on power bills?

The RET is cheap. The RET is a tiny fraction of your energy bill - on average 3% of the total bill. In contrast, gold-plating the grid (unnecessary spending on the poles and wires) make up about 70% of your bill.[6]

How does the RET reduce the cost of electricity?

Not only is the RET a small portion of your bill, but renewables - including solar - are reducing the wholesale price of electricity. South Australia was the only state where power price fell last year, this is credited to the fact that over 30% of their energy is produced by solar and wind.[7]

What is 2014 review of the Renewable Energy Target about?

The 2014 review of the Renewable Energy target was announced in February 2014. A call for submissions was made in April. The review is due to report to the government in mid 2014.  For more information see: retreview.dpmc.gov.au/

Who is conducting the review?

The renewable energy target review is being conducted by a panel hand-picked by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. It includes a team of people with close links to the fossil fuel industry - and no one with any expertise in renewable energy. The panel members include:

  • Dick Warburton, nuclear energy advocate as head

  • Shirley In’t Veld, CEO of Verve Energy,operator of major coal power stations

  • Matt Zema, Director of Australian Energy Market Operator

  • Brian Fischer, former head of ABARE and fossil fuel lobbyist

What is the purpose of the review?

It’s not clear what the purpose of the current renewable energy target review is. The last review was completed just under 18 months ago, and that review found that the renewable energy target is working as designed. With this government committing to yet another review almost as soon as the last was completed, it’s hard to conclude that it is anything other than a set up designed to cut support for solar energy and help the incumbent power companies.  

A downloadable .pdf of these FAQs/ talking points is available here.

And if you're interested in helping get more people involved, a hard copy of  the petition that you can get your friends and workmates to sign is here.

Have more questions? Let us know in the comments below!




[1]REC Agents Association, Available at: http://www.recagents.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Research-note-3-Geographical-Summary-Sep-2012-Final.pdf

[2]Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/energy-smart/solar-pv-jobs-to-crash-if-renewable-energy-target-is-scrapped-report-finds-20140129-31m9x.html

[3] Nigel Morris, SolarBusinessServices.

[4] Clean Energy Council, Available at: https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/policy-advocacy/renewable-energy-target/why-we-need-the-renewable-energy-target.html

[5] Essential Report, 25 Feb 2014, Available at: http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/02/25/essential-voters-back-ret-not-so-happy-about-qantas

[6] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-07/how-does-the-renewable-energy-target-affect-your-power-bill/5253136

[7] RenewEconomy, Available at: http://reneweconomy.com.au/2012/wind-solar-force-energy-price-cuts-in-south-australia-39705