Zhengrong Shi
Zhengrong Shi

South Australia has passed landmark legislation to introduce feed-in tariffs for solar power while New South Wales has ignored advice from Zhengrong Shi, an Australian citizen who is China’s richest man, to do likewise.

A feed-in tariff is a payment, usually above the normal retail rate, which is paid for electricity which is fed into the power grid. Under the South Australian system, 44 cents per kilowatt hour will be paid to consumers and small businesses which feed power from solar photovoltaic systems back into the grid. The payment is twice the retail cost of electricity in South Australia but will apply only to the excess produced over the amount consumed, rather than to the whole amount generated.

The New South Wales Government was recently urged to adopt a similar scheme by Zhengrong Shi. Dr Shi is an Australian trained scientist who has gone from an academic position at the University of New South Wales to become the wealthiest man in mainland China in just seven years. Dr Shi has urged NSW Premier, Morris Iemma, to adopt a system of feed-in tariffs, pointing out that variations of the system operate in most European counties, Canada, Japan and China. A spokesman for the Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, said that NSW was not considering feed-in tariffs, “instead, NSW is seeking national consistency on this matter.”

However, the Federal Cliamte Change Minister, Penny Wong, has stated that, while she does not want to legislate the measures, she does want the states to develop their own feed-in tariff systems within a nationally consistent framework.

The Queensland Government has responded to Senator Wong’s call by stating that it is considering implementing a program of feed-in tariffs. Details are expected to be announced in the next State budget on June 3.