A number of high profile industry groups have issued statements warning the federal government that Australia will damage its reputation as an investment destination if the Renewable Energy Target (RET) is scaled back or abolished.
Clean Energy Council (CEC) acting chief executive Kane Thornton said slashing the RET would devastate Australia's renewable energy sector, destroying hundreds of companies and thousands of jobs.
"Such a move would be reckless, given the government's own analysis shows slashing the RET would save no money on power bills, yet it would devastate billions of dollars of investments made in good faith in renewable energy projects across the country," Thornton said.
The warning follows a media report earlier in the week which revealed the government is considering abolishing the target.
The Australian Financial Review report said the government favoured abolishing the RET rather than scaling it back.
A formal review of the RET, which was undertaken by businessman Dick Warburton, was recently handed to the federal government for a final decision. The government has not revealed when a decision will be made.
The nation’s green building authority today called on the Abbott Government to recommit to the RET.
According to the Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA’s) chief operating officer, Robin Mellon, the RET has encouraged and supported diverse energy solutions, and abolishing it could diminish forward investment in renewable energy technologies.
“The RET has stimulated innovation, set a direction for industry and provided the impetus to invest in new technologies,” Mellon said.
The bi-partisan policy mandates that 20 per cent of Australia's electricity is to be generated from renewable sources by 2020.
Independent modelling commissioned by the Climate Institute has found that abolishing the RET could diminish investment in renewable energy by almost $11 billion.
“For industry to evolve, it requires standards, benchmarks and targets. The building code sets the standards, Green Star sets the best practice benchmarks and policies such as the RET set the targets. Without such targets, industry will lack the incentives to do better,” Mellon said.
“Australia now has more than 700 energy-efficient, Green Star-rated buildings that combine a range of energy solutions and technologies. These buildings, on average, consume just a third of the energy used by traditional, non-green buildings.
“We have green schools that complement geothermal energy with hydro power from the grid, offices and bank buildings replete with wind turbines and co-generation plants, and apartments and communities that feature solar panels and tap into precinct-wide tri-generation systems.
"The RET has helped to encourage investment in technologies that are increasingly integrated into buildings," Mellon said.
“True sustainability sits at the ‘sweet spot’ of good behaviour, good design and good technology. It’s not enough to incentivise good behaviour and good design. We need good technology – and the RET has been a driver of innovation by setting our direction. We can’t afford to get off track.”
The Australian Solar Council (ASC) is embarking on a marginal seat campaign to pressure the government against making any changes to the RET. It will begin in the marginal seat of Petrie in Brisbane which has a large take-up rate of solar rooftop panels.
Both Labor and the Greens said they would not support scaling back the RET while Clive Palmer has ruled out supporting any change to the target before the 2016 election.
Palmer said fiddling with the RET wasn't good for business or economic confidence.