The performance and impact of the Renewable Energy Target was in the spotlight throughout 2014. In February, the Government announced the terms of reference of an Expert Panel to review the Renewable Energy Target. The Panel received some 24 000 submissions and held 200 stakeholder meetings–an indication of the level of interest in the Renewable Energy Target and its policy settings. The Clean Energy Regulator contributed factual information on the operation of the scheme, much of which is also published in this annual administrative report.
The Panel's report, released in August 2014, found that the Renewable Energy Target has largely met its objectives and that consultations indicated 'the administration of the Renewable Energy Target scheme is generally efficient and meets the expectations of most stakeholders'. However, the Panel recommended reforming the Renewable Energy Target on other grounds. The Climate Change Authority published its second statutory review of the Renewable Energy Target in December, presenting another perspective. Options for amending the scheme remain under consideration.
Regardless of the policy debate during 2014, the Renewable Energy Target continued to operate according to its objectives. A total of 36.8 million renewable energy certificates were validly created in 2014, representing 36.8 million megawatt hours of additional electricity generated from ecologically sustainable sources or no longer required from the grid.
Administrative processes continued to operate smoothly and some significant improvements were made. For example, the redesigned Renewable Energy Certificate Registry (REC Registry), released in September 2014, provides a more streamlined and responsive facility for participants to create, trade and surrender renewable energy certificates. As a result the average time for validation of small-scale technology certificates reduced from 16 to five days.
The Large-scale Energy Target experienced a slow-down in investment–wind farm accreditations, which had been increasing since 2010, fell for the first time in 2014.
In contrast, there was an increase in accreditations of large-scale solar power plants, with technology developments improving solar's economic competitiveness at the utility scale.
The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme experienced greater stability during 2014, with fewer changes to state-based incentives than in past years. A year of steady growth saw small-scale installations surpass the 2.2 million milestone by the end of 2014.
In particular, there was strong growth in solar panel installations at the higher end of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme as an increasing number of small to medium businesses joined householders in using solar panels to reduce their electricity costs.
Each year the Clean Energy Regulator is funded to inspect a sample of small generation units to verify their compliance with the requirements to receive small-scale technology certificates. More than 3 600 small-scale systems were able to be inspected in 2014. The overall percentage of unsafe or substandard installations has fallen since the start of the small-scale inspections program in 2011.
Four power stations were inspected in 2014 and found to be compliant with the legislation.
There was also a steady and diligent approach to liable entity compliance during the year, with liable entities recording a 99.9 per cent compliance rate for meeting their renewable energy obligations by surrendering renewable energy certificates.
The outcomes of the 2014 calendar year demonstrate the Renewable Energy Target continues to operate effectively as a market-based instrument to support investment in renewable energy systems.
Chloe Munro Chair, Clean Energy Regulator
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The Clean Energy Regulator is a Government body responsible for accelerating carbon abatement for Australia.