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Renewable Energy Target

 

Deliverable: Administration and regulation of national Renewable Energy Target schemes:

  • maintaining the large-scale generation certificates and small-scale technology certificates registries and small-scale technology certificates clearing house
  • validating liability transfer certificates and small-scale technology certificates
  • providing partial exemptions for the emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries.

Snapshot

The Renewable Energy Target is designed to deliver on the Australian Government’s commitment to achieve the equivalent of at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The Renewable Energy Target is split into two schemes: the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. These schemes create a financial incentive for investment in renewable energy sources through the creation and sale of certificates.

These schemes complement one another, ensuring that investment in both small and large-scale renewable energy continues to flourish.

In 2012–13:

  • the total number of accredited renewable energy power stations reached 379
  • the Clean Energy Regulator validated 32,469,166 small-scale technology certificates and 11,944,656 large-scale generation certificates
  • 356,310 valid small-scale system installations were registered, bringing the total to 1,876,870.

The landmark of more than one million solar photovoltaic panel installations was passed in 2012–13. The achievement is a strong indication that the Renewable Energy Target mechanism is on track to achieve its objective of at least 20 per cent renewable electricity by 2020.

Large-scale Renewable Energy Target

In 2012–13, the Clean Energy Regulator received 20 applications for power station accreditation, and processed all of those within the six-week legislated timeframe.

A total of 27 renewable energy power stations were accredited in 2012–13, bringing the cumulative total to 379. Table 3.5 details the fuel sources used by accredited power stations. Certain power stations are accredited for multiple fuel sources.

Table 3.5: Number of renewable energy power stations accredited, by fuel source
Fuel source Total
Agriculture, food and agriculture waste 0
Bagasse cogeneration, energy crops 0
Black liquor 0
Hydro 0
Landfill gas 2
Sewage gas and biomass-based components of sewage and municipal solid waste 0
Solar 9
Waste coal mine 7
Wind 9
Wood waste 0
Total 27

In 2012–13, the Clean Energy Regulator validated 11,944,656 large-scale generation certificates for electricity produced from renewable power sources. This equates to the electricity required to power 3.4 million homes (based on a typical Australian household consumption of 18 kilowatt hours per day). All large-scale generation certificate validations were completed within the 28-day legislated timeframe.

Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme

Small-scale technology certificates

Registered persons and agents created 30,861,414 small-scale technology certificates in 2012–13.

All small-scale technology certificates are subject to a rigorous validation process before they are made available for sale or trade. In 2012–13, 100 per cent of small-scale technology certificates were subject to data analysis and review in the Renewable Energy Certificate Registry.

Installations

Based on risk profiles, installations may be selected for further audit before their certificates can be validated. In 2012–13, the Clean Energy Regulator conducted a validation audit process for 32,469,166 certificates: 31,148,276 (96 per cent) passed and 1,320,890 failed and required remedial action and resubmission. The average validation time was 12 days, well within the Agency’s service benchmark. Figure 3.1 shows the time taken to complete validation audits.

Figure 3.1: Average days between creation and audit of small-scale technology certificates

Figure 3.1 shows the time taken to complete validation audits as described above. 

Table 3.6 shows valid small-scale system installation registrations for 2012–13, excluding registrations that failed to pass inspection or were pending inspection at 30 June 2013.

Table 3.6: Valid small-scale system installation registrations
Solar water heater Air source heat pump Solar panel system Wind system Hydro system Total
2012–13 total 53,267 13,637 289,389 16 1 356,310
Cumulative totala 644,994 167,458 1,063,985 416 17 1,876,870

a Total from the commencement of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme in January 2011 to 30 June 2013.

Register of Solar Water Heaters

The Clean Energy Regulator is responsible for maintaining the Register of Solar Water Heaters, a list of the solar water heaters and heat pumps that are eligible for the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. A total of 7,898 solar water heaters and air source heat pumps were added to the register during 2012–13.

Inspections program

The Renewable Energy Target inspections program is designed to ensure that installations meet the requirements for eligibility to claim small-scale technology certificates. In 2013, the Clean Energy Regulator introduced targeted inspections, in addition to random inspections, as part of its risk-based compliance approach. Inspections results are regularly published on the Clean Energy Regulator website.

In 2012–13, the Clean Energy Regulator conducted 3,349 inspections and observed an increase in the proportion of compliant systems relative to the overall results since the scheme commenced. The results are shown in Table 3.7.

Table 3.7: Renewable Energy Target inspections program results
Inspections program results Compliant Substandard Unsafe Total
2012–13 total 2,863 362 124 3,349
Cumulative totala 6,838 1,268 353 8,459

a Total from the commencement of the inspections program in May 2011 to 30 June 2013.

The Clean Energy Regulator is not responsible for the regulation of electrical and building safety. In 2012–13, all systems categorised as unsafe were referred to the relevant state or territory electrical regulator.

Partial exemption

The Clean Energy Regulator issues partial exemption certificates to provide partial exemption from Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme liability in respect of electricity used in defined emissions-intensive trade-exposed activities.

Applications for partial exemption may be made for a specific assessment year, which is 1 January to 31 December. During 2012–13, the Clean Energy Regulator received and assessed applications for partial exemption for 2012 and 2013. The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 requires that certain applications must be accompanied by an independent audit report that has been prepared by a qualified assurance provider. All applicable applications were accompanied by audit reports. Table 3.8 shows the partial exemption applications and certificates issued during 2012–13.

Table 3.8: Partial exemptions
Compliance year Applications submitted Certificates issued Approximate partial exemption Processed within standard Outstanding at 30 June 2013
(no.) (no.) (GWh) (%) (no.)
2012 33 33 320 100 0
2013 157 147 31,350 100 10

Registered persons and agents

In order to create large-scale generation certificates or small-scale technology certificates, an individual or company must apply to become a registered person or registered agent. Table 3.9 shows the numbers and timeliness of applications processed in 2012–13.

Table 3.9: Applications for registered persons and registered agents
Processed Processed within standard Cumulative totala
(no.)(%)(no.)
Registered agents 507 100 7,161
Registered persons 154 100 1,381

a Total from the commencement of the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme in January 2011 to 30 June 2013.

REC Registry

The Renewable Energy Certificate Registry (REC Registry) is a secure web-based application that facilitates the creation, sale, trade and surrender of large-scale generation certificates and small-scale technology certificates. It also maintains public registers as set out under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000.

The Small-scale Technology Certificate Clearing House (STC Clearing House) is a facility within the REC Registry that allows for the sale of small-scale technology certificates at a price of $40 per certificate. This is not a government guaranteed price but rather is the fixed price for the sale of small-scale technology certificates within the STC Clearing House. Liable entities were able to buy sufficient small-scale technology certificates through the market at prices below $40, and very few sales were made through the STC Clearing House, in 2012–13.

The REC Registry, including the STC Clearing House, is subject to regular tests and audits to maintain its security certification. No security incidences were recorded and no unscheduled outages occurred during 2012–13.

Case study: Greenough River Solar Farm

The Greenough River Solar Farm is the largest accredited solar photovoltaic power station in Australia. The solar farm was developed as a joint venture between Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services and is located south-east of Geraldton in Western Australia’s remote mid-west region.

The power station has an installed capacity of 10 megawatts, which is the first stage of a proposed 40-megawatt solar farm.

The solar farm was commissioned and accredited as a renewable energy power station in August 2012. Since it was commissioned, the project has generated approximately 20,000 megawatt hours of electricity, equivalent to the power consumed by about 3,000 households in a year.

Large-scale generation certificates have been created for that generation.

Greenough River Solar Farm is a prime example of how the Renewable Energy Target is fulfilling its objective to ensure that 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity is sourced from renewable sources by 2020. The Renewable Energy Target provides the necessary cost balance to make this technology financially viable and sustainable.

Greenough River Solar Farm is the first in a number of large solar photovoltaic power stations planned for Australia. The Clean Energy Regulator expects to accredit more solar photovoltaic and other eligible renewable energy power stations over coming years, as Australia expands and diversifies its renewable energy electricity generation.


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