You’ve heard about this great way of delivering large-scale renewable energy, you’ve seen how well it has worked overseas, you’ve been presented with a mountain of supporting evidence that suggests it could turn Australia into a renewable energy leader and the economist you’ve hired to look at the economics of dealing with climate change has given it the tick of approval.

You might work to introduce it in Australia at the earliest possible opportunity.

But the Government’s response to a Senate report released yesterday on Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) has been far from enthusiastic.

A FIT is a policy that guarantees generators of renewable energy a premium rate for the electricity they feed in to the grid. The tariff rate is paid for many years, providing long-term certainty and confidence for the renewable energy industry. If applied to technologies such as solar panels, this means that more Australians can get into the act of delivering an energy revolution, as the electricity produced by the panels starts making  money for their owners.

Ever wondered why European countries are leading the world in rolling out renewable energy technology when Australia’s solar resources make Germany’s look like a torch that is rapidly losing battery power?

The Australian Senate just held an inquiry into establishing a FIT policy framework in Australia. Its report is a glowing reference into the effectiveness of a FIT globally and how well they could be applied in Australia. But, despite all the supporting evidence, the report recommends that the Bill which the inquiry was looking at shouldn’t go ahead.


The report said it would prefer to have the existing state-based FIT policies “harmonised”. Just one problem – most states which have introduced a FIT have been a “net” tariff, which means the premium rate is only paid for the excess electricity is produced, not the total. This tends to kick the effectiveness out of the scheme. Oh, one other problem: the state-based FITs are almost all just for solar energy where the Senate report was looking at applying FITs to all renewable energy technologies. Oh, just one more: if you harmonise the state-based schemes, wouldn’t it mean that we have a policy that’s consistent for only half the country, as only half the states and territories have a FIT? Ok, I won’t pry any further just yet.

Oh no, one more… how long would it take for COAG to sort out the details of a harmonised FIT? Doesn’t COAG have to cover a whole range of issues? Don’t we urgetly need renewable energy to be brought online to replace carbon-polluting fossil fuel energy?We’re one year on from the election and we’re still waiting for COAG to come up with a plan for the 20% Mandatory Renewable Energy Target we were promised.

An obvious way to have a strong FIT that applies nationwide would be to do it at a national level. The Federal Government needs to take responsibility for bringing in a positive FIT to drive renewable energy solutions to climate change.