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Australia shapes up FiT policies: national gross system on the horizon?

Dec 16, 2009 - Emma Hughes - PV-tech

As we progress further into what will soon be 2010 - 'the year solar PV will take off', more changes are being made in the world of photovoltaics in Australia. This country has seen many changes to its renewable situation during 2009, with new feed-in tariffs announced, improved and tweaked as the continent moves towards its goal of a nationwide gross feed-in tariff scheme.

Many changes are expected to come out of the climate change talks in Copenhagen over the next week. However, adding to the long list of those that already have, South Australian Premier Mike Rann has announced the mandatory ruling that all new and substantially refurbished government and government-operated residential buildings will have to utilize solar panels in some way.

Energy Matters reports that this declaration will take effect as of July 1st 2010. The scheme stipulates that each government-owned and -operated residential building will have a minimum of 1.5kW of solar panels installed, while all other new government buildings will have a minimum of 5kW. Premier Rann has also said that the South Australian government has increased its state target for renewable energy generation to 33% by 2020. This is 13% higher than the national RET (renewable energy target) of 20% to be achieved by the same date. 
In order to reach this target, there needs to be a significant amount of financial stimulus. In response to this, Premier Rann announced that as of July 2010, investors would benefit from payroll tax rebates of up to AUS$5 million for large solar farms.
Throughout 2009 Australia's states have been battling it out for the best solar policy, yet they are all essentially working towards a RET and the idealized goal of a national gross feed-in tariff scheme.

The first state to announce a competitive rate was the ACT. The state's Government implemented what was at the time the nation's most generous feed-in tariff for solar power in March 2009. This rate is currently set from 50.05c/kWh up to 10kW capacity and 40.04c/kWh up to 30kW capacity. This was the first of Australia's states to announce a gross FiT system.
Soon enough however, NSW was granted its own gross FiT scheme, coupled with its Solar Bonus Scheme, which pays 60c/kWh. Other states were not long to follow with this pattern of success. Even Victoria's net feed-in tariff, which was at first written off as a disappointment, has actually gained a fair amount of momentum due to strong market forces.      
While Australia is slowly modifying its state segmented solar schemes to match the ever-growing market, it is still unclear whether or not these recent announcements from Rann will push South Australia to switch to a gross FiT scheme in the move towards a nation-wide gross scheme.


Updated: 2003/07/28