Australia’s target of achieving a two per cent growth in supply of electricity generated from renewable sources over a ten year period is unlikely to be achieved, according to recently reported comments from the Australian Ecogen Association (ASA).

The Australian Prime Minister announced a A$180 million ($91 million) package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the country’s Response to Climate Change in November 1997. The announcement set out a mandatory target of two per cent for the supply of renewable energy over a ten year period.

The expectation was that generation of an extra 9500 GWh from renewable sources would be required to satisfy the target. This represents enough power to meet the residential electricity needs of four million people.

However, legislation drafted last year and put into effect on 1 April 2001, omitted to refer to the two per cent target and instead required generation of 9500 GWh. The ASA, which represents the renewable energy and cogeneration industries, believe this level of renewable production will only represent a boost of 0.5 per cent for green energy by 2010. The ASA bases its calculations on the latest figures produced by the Electricity Supply Association of Australia (ESAA).

“Unfortunately the government’s forecast for electricity generation in 2010 has proved to be too low,” said AEA executive director Rick Brazzale. To get back to the original intent of the renewables legislation (a two per cent boost), Australia would need to lift renewables output by 13 000 GWh by 2010, AEA said.

Renewables targets have been developed as trade-offs between power costs and the expansion of renewable capacity. ESAA executive director Keith Orchison said the current 9500 GWh target would add about A$320 million to a national electricity bill likely to be A$25 billion in 2010, an increase of 1.28 per cent.

If the renewable contribution were boosted by 13 000 GWh, the costs would be increased by over A$500 million, and if renewables climbed by 20 000 GWh, the extra cost would be A$1 billion, he said.

The two per cent renewables target falls some way short of the five per cent increase many European countries are aiming to accomplish over the same period.