Australia Will Maintain 20% Renewable Energy Target, Wong Says

The Australian government will keep a target of generating 20 percent of the nation’s energy from renewable sources by 2020 while amending planned legislation, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said.

“The amendments will ensure the long-term, sustainable growth of both the small-scale and large-scale renewable energy sector and will support new jobs and investment,” Wong said in an e-mailed statement today after putting the amendments to the upper house Senate.

With an election due by April 2011, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd slumped in opinion polls after he scrapped carbon- trading plans on April 27. Action on climate change was a mainstay of Rudd’s election campaign in 2007 and he announced on his first day in office that Australia would ratify the Kyoto accord. Rudd plans to reopen the climate debate at the end of 2012.

The legislation, aimed at supporting large-scale projects and the supply of clean energy to homes, has two parts. The first supports households using solar panels and solar hot water systems, while the development of wind farms, commercial solar and geothermal projects will deliver the majority of the 2020 target, according to the government.

The amendments include temporarily increasing the target in 2012 and 2013 and adjusting it in later years, regulatory powers to adjust credits for solar panels and reviewing the price of so-called renewable energy certificates.

The changes address issues raised in the Senate by Tony Abbott’s opposition Liberal-National coalition, the Greens and independent Senator Nick Xenophon, Wong said. Their support is needed to pass the laws in the upper house.

“It is imperative for the ongoing growth of the renewables sector that the legislation passes the parliament this week,” Wong said. The laws are scheduled to take effect from Jan. 1.

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