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About the Renewable Energy Target

To power our homes and businesses, Australia generates electricity from coal and gas fired power stations, as well as a range of renewable energy sources including large-scale hydropower facilities and wind farms, and small-scale solar hot water and solar rooftop panels.

The Renewable Energy Target is an Australian Government scheme designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector and encourage the additional generation of electricity from sustainable and renewable sources.

The Renewable Energy Target works by allowing both large-scale power stations and the owners of small-scale systems to create certificates for every megawatt hour of power they generate. Certificates are then purchased by electricity retailers who sell the electricity to householders and businesses. These electricity retailers also have legal obligations under the Renewable Energy Target to surrender certificates to the Clean Energy Regulator, in percentages set by regulation each year. This creates a market which provides financial incentives to both large-scale renewable energy power stations and the owners of small-scale renewable energy systems.

In the case of small-scale systems, all certificates are provided ‘up front’ for the systems’ expected power generation or displacement over a 15 year period. Generally, householders who purchase these systems assign the right to create their certificates to an agent in return for a lower purchase price. The level of this benefit differs across the country depending on the level of solar radiation.

In June 2015, the Australian Parliament passed the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Bill 2015. As part of the amendment bill, the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target was reduced from 41 000 GWh to 33 000 GWh in 2020 with interim and post-2020 targets adjusted accordingly.

Source: CER – About the Renewable Energy Target (26 November 2015)

Financial incentives

Renewable Energy Target participants who invest in, and generate, renewable energy may be eligible for financial incentives under the scheme.

These financial incentives are offered in the form of tradable certificates, which act as an electronic form of currency. Certificates, which are comprised of large-scale generation certificates, and small-scale technology certificates, are calculated on the amount of renewable energy which is generated or displaced from a system or power station. For example, one certificate can be created for each megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity generated.

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme

Under the Renewable Energy Target, if you have installed an eligible small-scale renewable energy system within the past 12 months you may be eligible to create small-scale technology certificates.

The number of small-scale technology certificates that can be created per system is based on geographical location, installation date, and the amount of electricity in megawatt hours (MWh) the system generates or displaces over the course of its lifetime.

Owners of eligible systems may be eligible to receive either an upfront discount off the total cost of their system, or a quantity of small-scale technology certificates which can be created and sold following installation to recoup some of the cost.

Learn how to claim small-scale technology certificates yourself, or assign the right to create them for an upfront financial benefit.

Financial incentives available outside of the scheme

In addition to financial incentives offered under the Renewable Energy Target, individuals and small businesses who install a small-scale system may also be eligible for feed-in tariffs.

Feed-in tariffs are designed to pay you for excess electricity generated and fed into the main grid by your small-scale renewable energy system.

To find out if you are eligible for a feed-in tariff, you will need to contact your state or territory government, or electricity retailer who will provide you with further information, and if you are eligible, will help you apply.

State and territory Governments regulate and oversee the administration of feed-in tariffs, which may vary depending on where you live. Contact your state or territory Government to find out more information about feed-in tariffs in your area.

The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target

Accredited renewable energy power stations are entitled to create large-scale generation certificates for all eligible electricity generated above a regulated level, called the baseline. Once created, large-scale generation certificates can be sold to offset the cost of investment, or if you are a liable entity, surrendered to the Clean Energy Regulator to meet your liability obligations.

Learn how to gain accreditation for a renewable energy power station and how to calculate financial incentives you may be eligible for.

Source: CER – Financial incentives (02 June 2015)

How the scheme works

The Clean Energy Regulator administers the Renewable Energy Target’s two schemes:

  • The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target, which encourages investment in renewable power stations to achieve 33 000 gigawatt hours of additional renewable electricity generation by 2020, and
  • The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which supports small-scale installations like household solar panels and solar hot water systems.
The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target is designed to deliver the majority of the 2020 target, while the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme supports the installation of small-scale renewables, such as household solar rooftop panels and solar hot water systems.

The Renewable Energy Target operates through the creation of tradable certificates which create an incentive for additional generation of electricity from renewable sources. Certificates are created and issued through the REC Registry —an online trading platform managed by the Clean Energy Regulator.

Through the scheme, large renewable power stations and the owners of small-scale systems are eligible to create certificates for every megawatt hour of power they generate—creating the ‘supply’ side of the certificate market. Wholesale purchasers of electricity, mainly electricity retailers, buy these certificates to meet their renewable energy obligations—forming the ‘demand’ side of the certificate market. Wholesale purchasers of electricity then surrender these certificates to the Clean Energy Regulator in percentages set by regulation each year.

The number of certificates issued to an individual or business is determined by the amount of electricity generated or displaced by an eligible system. Eligible systems may include renewable energy power stations, small-scale solar panels, wind and hydro systems, or solar water heaters and heat pumps.

Certificates are traded and paid at a rate determined by supply and demand of the market.

Source: CER – How the scheme works (28 October 2015)

How to participate in the Renewable Energy Target

Small-scale renewable energy systems and large-scale renewable energy power stations can be used to generate power for our community, homes and businesses from sustainable natural resources, such as the sun, wind and water.

Participation in the Renewable Energy Target includes:

  • Large and small-scale voluntary participants who wish to invest in, or generate renewable energy, and lower their consumption of main grid electricity, and
  • Participants who are required by law to surrender large-scale generation certificates and small-scale technology certificates to offset the generation of emissions intensive energy, and meet scheme compliance obligations.

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme

The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme encourages investment in small-scale renewable energy, and creates a financial incentive for individuals and small businesses to install systems which produce electricity and deliver hot water.

To participate in the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, individuals and small businesses must choose and install a renewable energy system which meets the scheme’s eligibility criteria.

Owners of eligible systems may be eligible to receive either an upfront discount off the total cost of their system, or a quantity of small-scale technology certificates which can be created and sold following installation to recoup some of the cost.

Learn more about eligible small-scale systems and using a registered agent. Under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, retailers, traders and installers of small-scale systems may also apply to the Clean Energy Regulator to become a registered agent.

Once registered with the Clean Energy Regulator, agents can assist owners in the purchase and installation of their system, and create and sell assigned small-scale technology certificates.

The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target

The Large-scale Renewable Energy Scheme creates a financial incentive for the establishment and growth of renewable energy power stations, such as wind and solar farms, or hydro-electric power stations.

To participate under the Large-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, renewable energy power stations must generate electricity from eligible natural resources such as the sun, wind, ocean waves and the tide, geothermal-aquifers, wood waste, agricultural waste, bagasse (sugar cane waste), black liquor (a by-product of the paper-making process), or landfill gas.

A full list of eligible renewable energy sources is in the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000—the legislation which underpins the Renewable Energy Target.

Renewable energy power stations that meet the eligibility criteria and become accredited under the scheme are entitled to create large-scale generation certificates—which can be sold and traded to off-set the cost of investment.

The Large-scale Renewable Energy Target also imposes a legal obligation on liable entities to buy and surrender certificates to the Clean Energy Regulator on an annual basis. The amount of certificates liable entities are required to surrender to meet their legal obligation is determined through the small-scale technology percentage and renewable power percentage.

Learn how to gain accreditation for a renewable energy power station under the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target, buying and selling large-scale generation certificates, and surrendering large-scale generation certificates to meet scheme compliance obligations.

Source: CER – How to participate in the Renewable Energy Target (02 June 2015)

Eligible Systems

Under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, eligible small-scale renewable energy systems are categorised into small generation units and solar water heater systems.

Small generation units generate electricity from renewable energy sources including:

  • Solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels
  • Wind Turbines, and
  • Hydro Systems.
A solar water heater system is a system which displaces electricity, and as a result reduces consumption of electricity from the main grid. There are two types of eligible solar water heater systems:

  • Solar Hot Water Systems, and
  • Air Source Heat Pumps.

Eligible small-scale system capacity

System type System capacity Electricity output
Solar panels No more than 100 kW Total annual electricity output less than 250 MWh
Wind turbines No more than 10 kW Total annual electricity output less than 25 MWh
Hydro No more than 6.4 kW Total annual electricity output less than 25 MWh
Solar water heaters Up to 700 L. Solar water heater models over 700 L capacity require additional documentation to be eligible for certificates N/A
Air source heat pumps No more than 425 L N/A

 

Before you purchase and install a system it is important that you do your research to find the system which best suits your needs, and make sure you, or your agent, check your system is eligible under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.

If the small-generation unit is larger than the capacity limits listed above, it will be classified as a power station and must be accredited as a power station under the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target. If accreditation is successful, the unit may be eligible for large-scale generation certificates.

Source: CER – Eligible systems (23 June 2015)

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