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Clean energy set for massive boost

A scheme to massively boost renewable energy looks set to get the green light – but not without some tinkering.

The federal government wants to have 20 per cent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.

A scheme, separate to emissions trading, is before parliament to achieve the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

If passed, possibly as early as next week, it would lead to a boom in the wind and solar power sectors.

A Senate committee report on the draft laws shows strong support from all political parties, but they want some changes too.

The government-dominated committee wants the RET, which is expressed in units of energy rather than a percentage, to be increased if total energy consumption rises faster than expected.

The committee wants to make sure that a penalty fee for electricity generators which do not buy the required amount of renewable energy is harsh enough.

The most contentious issue is the government’s decision to link the RET to the troubled emissions trading scheme (ETS).

The committee did not support separating the two, but in a minority report, the coalition said it would seek to decouple them in the parliament.

The coalition also wants the aluminium industry – which uses lots of electricity – to be spared 90 per cent of their share of paying for the RET.

And the waste gases from coal mining should be designated a renewable source, the coalition says.

The Australian Greens want the RET increased to 30 per cent, a gross national feed-in tariff for renewable energy producers, and an end to exemptions which spare industry the cost of the RET.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon also wants the RET and the ETS decoupled, and he wants air-sourced heat pumps to be removed from the RET.

The report was issued by the Senate’s Economics Legislation Committee.

© 2009 AAP

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