Following on from the report in last month’s edition of the Energy Market Update, the Australian Senate, on 23 June 2015 passed the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015 without amendment. This will see Australia's Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target reduced from 41,000 GWh to 33,000 GWh in 2020.
The Amendment Bill will make the following key changes to the Renewable Energy Target (RET) Scheme:
- amend the Renewable Energy (Electricity) (REE) Act to reduce the legislative annual targets for large-scale renewable sourced electricity for each year from 2016 until 2030 to provide a smooth transition to achieving a Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET) of 33,000 GWh in 2020 (with this level to be maintained until 2030); and
- repeal the requirement for periodic reviews of the operation of the REE Act.
In addition to these key changes, the Amendment Bill will also:
- remove the separate adjustment to the 2016 to 2020 targets to re-allocate surplus certificates (from prior to the commencement of the separate LRET and Small-Scale Renewable Energy Target (SRET) in 2011) and the existing 850 MW allocation of non-renewable generation using waste coal mine gas, as these adjustments have now been incorporated into the targets set out in the REE Act (as amended);
- increase the rate of exemption from LRET liability for electricity used in undertaking emissions-intensive and trade exposed activities to 100%; and
- amend the REE Regulations to reinstate native forest wood waste as an eligible renewable source under the same conditions that existed prior to its removal from eligibility in 2011.
Upon its introduction into the Senate, a number of amendments were proposed to the Amendment Bill by the Greens (and supported by Labor) which sort to remove the native forest wood waste element from the Bill. The Greens' concern was that the inclusion of native forest wood waste would encourage native forest logging for the purposes of electricity generation.
The amendments were unsuccessful after the Federal Government secured the majority support for the Amendment Bill by reaching a deal with four crossbenchers to establish a wind farm commissioner.