Why has South Australia increased its RET?

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Many state governments are making attempts to improve their environmental credentials and one of the most popular methods of doing this is by setting a Renewable Energy Target (RET).

This is a carbon reduction goal that an area must meet in a given time frame, helping businesses, residents and even electricity suppliers all work towards a common objective.

Last month, the South Australian government announced it was increasing its RET, but what were its motivations for doing so?

Moving towards a more efficient future

South Australia's State Premier Jay Weatherill revealed how the region's RET would be increased to 50 per cent of electricity being generated from renewable sources by 2025.

It is hoped this will open up new opportunities for local people and businesses, which in turn has the potential to support the local economy.

Previously, the RET had been set at 33 per cent of electricity being sourced from renewables by 2020, but the government now has its sights set on higher goals.

Mr Weatherill announced how the revised RET would help create jobs, as well as spur on capital investment in the state's advanced manufacturing industries.

"There are hundreds, if not thousands of SA jobs in the renewable energy sector - these are the growth areas we should be supporting, not undermining," said Mr Weatherill.

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has praised the decision to increase the RET, saying it will open up job prospects for many communities - including those in rural and regional areas.

It acknowledged how South Australia is well placed to reap the benefits of solar power, as well as wind and geothermal energy, all of which should contribute to its overall success.

Not only this, electricity prices could be lowered for consumers. CEC figures suggest costs could come down by as much as $50 in 2020 if the RET is maintained.

Meeting objectives

South Australia is hoping to build on the success it has already seen by giving itself a new objective to work towards, especially as it's widely believed the 33 per cent target set back in 2009 has been exceeded.

Figures from 2013-14 indicate approximately 31.5 per cent of energy generated in the state was derived from renewables, but data from the Australian Energy Market Operator suggests the figure is closer to 33 per cent.

"We took action at the local level, passing the nation's first dedicated climate change legislation and were the first state with a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," noted Mr Weatherill.

Posted by Liam Tunney