June 25th 2009
Join the solar petition
While Magnetic Island has begun to save greenhouse gases with the Solar Cities program there is a great opportunity right now to help the rest of Australia catch up in solar usage. A petition calling on the Australian parliament to introduce what is called a renewable “gross feed-in tariff” is seen by many experts as the way to put solar to a fairer competitive level with the coal powered polluters and, in doing so, create thousands or jobs.
The present support for solar in particular is incredibly complex and in some ways counterproductive.
State based “net feed-in tariffs' vary across the country. These systems basically pay people who invest in a solar photo voltaic system for their home to be rewarded only for the surplus amount of energy they can send back to the grid. A gross feed-in tariff pays households for all the energy they generate from their roofs and provides a simple and effective incentive to use the cleaner form of energy.
Solar installation costs are now higher with the recent reduction of the rebate to install solar systems by nearly half. And, with the addition of a very confusing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) scheme, the whole purpose of lowering greenhouse gas production is being lost. With domestic solar schemes, four extra, free, RECs are tacked on to the value of each REC actually produced. Well-intentioned people, will, according to solar industry commentators, be losing the greenhouse gas they have saved as the phoney RECs get sold to polluters, who would otherwise have to pay for properly valued RECs elsewhere.
It's hard not to see the policy as one that still favours the coal industry who are subsidised in all sorts of ways – not least by still being able to toss out tonnes of carbon from their smokestacks for free.
To learn a bit more about this vital issue and make your opinion known to Canberra go to http://www.feedintariff.com.au
Excellent coverage of the broader issues can also be heard at ABC Radio National's "Australia Talks" site where they were discussed last week: (click here)
Story: George Hirst
Image: Courtesy Energy Matters
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