Ian Macfarlane
Ian Macfarlane

Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has announced the Government’s “starting position” in negotiations with the ALP on the Renewable Energy Target.

In short, the Government’s wants to:

  • cut the RET to a so-called “real” 20% – that is cutting the target from about 41,000 Gigawatt hours to about 27,000;
  • exempt all emissions intensive industries (such as aluminium and cement) from the RET;
  • leave the “small RET” for household solar unchanged; and
  • cease two yearly reviews.

In his comments to journalists, Ian Macfarlane also appeared to endorse the notion of capping any growth in the Renewable Energy Target to a maximum of 50%  of any annual growth in electricity demand.

Industry reaction was overwhelmingly negative:

  • The Clean Energy Council commented that the “‘Real’ 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target would decimate industry”.
  • The Australian Wind Alliance described the announcement as an “attack on renewable energy”.
  • The Australian Youth Climate Coalition said “It’s a real big cut to clean energy. Call Macfarlane or Hunt right now!”
  • The Climate Spectator described it as the “renewables death warrant”.
  • Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, described the “real” 20% as “a fraud 20% a fake 20%”.


But curiously, the Australian Solar Council welcomed the announcement, with CEO John Grimes describing it as “a very positive development”.

Even more curiously, Mr Grimes claimed that”The Abbott Government has changed its position dramatically as a result of the (Australian Solar Council’s) successful Save Solar Campaign.” In fact, the Government’s announced position represents almost no change at all from the position that most in the industry have long expected it to take.