Industry groups, including the Property Council of Australia, are concerned changes to the Renewable Energy Target will undermine the GreenPower scheme.
GreenPower is a voluntary measure that households and organisations can use to increase renewable energy generation, additional to what is already legislated under the RET. It is often used by businesses wanting to become carbon neutral, with many government bodies also using the scheme.
A proposal in the Warburton RET review, however, suggests the government might want to consider counting these voluntary GreenPower purchases when setting Australia’s renewables target, effectively removing the additionality of GreenPower to the RET.
“Should either of the Panel’s recommended options for the [Large-scale Renewable Energy Target] be adopted, it may be appropriate to include some allowance for GreenPower [large-scale generation certificate] purchases in the setting of targets under the LRET,” the review states.
Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said the proposal would undermine the program.
“GreenPower has been an effective market-based option for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint,”Mr Morrison said.
“Including GreenPower in the RET calculations would mean customers are paying for something already funded by the RET. It would become valueless to end users.”
For the property industry, building rating schemes like NABERS and Green Star could be affected, he said, as GreenPower was able to play a part in rating calculations. GreenPower can currently be used as part of NABERS Energy ratings (though a separate rating not including GreenPower is required for the Commercial Building Disclosure scheme), as well as in the new Green Star – Performance tool under the “Greenhouse Gas Emissions”credit.
Landlords agree on the RET, not so sure on GreenPower
A spokesman for one of the country’s biggest landlords said it was “ridiculous” that the government would consider abolishing the RET. It had made the company seriously consider whether it should go ahead with some of its renewable energy projects such as solar installations, he said.
However, the demise of GreenPower would not significantly affect the NABERS Energy ratings and implied capital values of properties because NABERS already allowed for two measures of star ratings, one with GreenPower and one without. And a building that rated highly without GreenPower would be expected to have a higher capital value because this signified it had higher efficiencies, which meant lower outgoings and potentially greater attractiveness to tenants.
So while installing solar power on a building impacts positively on a NABERS rating that’s not so much the case for GreenPower.
“I don’t think it impacts on NABERS,” he said.
The spokesman’s company had once bought green power “but ruled it out a while back because rather than spending money on buying green power we could spend more on energy efficiency”.
“Green power means you have higher outgoings, so on a like for like basis tenants will gravitate to the building with the lower outgoings.”
Mr Morrison said the outcome of removing additionality from GreenPower would be the withdrawal of $80 million worth of private renewable funding a year.
“That’s a whopping blow to Australia’s renewable energy sector and would make our carbon abatement task even harder.”
The Alternative Technology Association, also said the issue of additionality was important.
“This scheme exists to provide a way for people who wish to go beyond the mandated targets and achieve up to 100 per cent of their electricity consumption from renewable energy,” ATA policy and research manager Damien Moyse said. “If this additional amount is simply rolled into a fixed target that is going to be delivered anyway, irrespective of what choices any individual makes, then the incentive to buy GreenPower in the first place is completely eroded.
“The members of the Warburton RET Review panel clearly did not understand the purpose and operational issues associated with GreenPower.”
The government is yet to respond to the RET Review.