Labor’s boost for renewable energy businesses

Labor leader Kevin Rudd’s commitment to a 20% renewable energy target by 2020 will help clean-energy businesses move their technologies from development to deployment, a leading industry group says.

Rudd yesterday announced that a Labor government would require energy companies to source 20% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, an amount equal to 60,000 gigawatts per year.

The Labor target is 5% higher than the 15% target announced by the Coalition in September, and, unlike the Coalition, excludes energy generated from non-renewable sources such as nuclear and clean coal.

The higher target and exclusion of technologies like clean coal means Labor’s policy would provide a bigger boost for the businesses in the renewable energy sector, according to Renewable Energy Generators of Australia chief executive Susan Jeanes.

“There is quite a bit of extra room in the 20% target – that is about 15,000 extra gigawatt hours in the Labor target, which will give more room to move for alternative energy generators,” Jeanes says.

Labor’s emphasis on renewable energy targets differs from the Coalition, which has been more inclined to provide funding directly to renewable energy technology developers. Both approaches make an important contribution to the industry, but as more technologies move into a deployment stage, market mechanisms become more important, Jeanes says.

“Market mechanisms lets people find the cheapest source of energy possible, so as they come into operation that will help produce efficiencies,” Jeanes says.

Wind generation company Roaring 40s, which operates wind farms in Australia, New Zealand and China, today welcomed Labor’s announcement as good news for the renewable energy sector in Australia, according to managing director Mark Kelleher.

“As one of the leading renewable energy companies in Australia, Roaring 40s is pleased to see the announcement as it will provide big benefits for the company’s future prospects in this country,” Kelleher says.

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