Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Feed in tariff needed to boost solar power

Our solar photovoltaic array at the rear. The solar hot water system is in front.

Here is a copy of a letter I have just sent to Peter Batchelor, the Victorian Minister for energy and resources, about the importance of introducing a feed in tariff for solar power in Victoria.

Feed in tariff legislation is in the process of being enacted in South Australia and Queensland. We need this in Victoria too..

If you have time, it would be worth sending in a letter of your own to your state politicians too.

TO: The Honourable Peter Batchelor

Minister for Energy and Resources
Level 20, 1 Spring St
Via email

CC: Hon. John Brumby
Premier of Victoria
C/o Department of Premier and Cabinet
1 Treasury Place
Via email

CC: Robert Clark, Shadow Minister for Energy & Resources
Via email

March 19, 2008

Feed-in Tariffs for renewable energy generation

Dear Mr Batchelor,

We have been operating a grid interactive solar photo voltaic array on our house in Surrey Hills since 2002, over which time we have saved approximately 15 tonnes of CO2 emissions. You can view details of the house and the solar system here.

We welcome the commitment of the Victorian state government to introduce a fair price for solar electricity generated on rooftops and fed into the electricity grid. We believe that a move toward renewable energy is an essential means of addressing climate change, and solar photovoltaic (PV) micro-generation has an important role to play in boosting Victoria’s renewable energy share.

By offering a premium price for electricity generated on rooftops and fed directly into the grid, feed-in tariffs recognise the wealth of benefits which arise from the adoption of this technology. These include:

  • environmental benefits from reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants
  • network benefits from reduced transmission losses and generation closer to the source of consumption;
  • supply benefits from producing clean power for the grid during peak load times on very hot days
  • economic benefits through lowering of peak wholesale electricity prices
  • social benefits via diversified electricity generation and job creation.

However, for a feed-in tariff to create the level of take-up required to achieve these benefits, it is essential that it is paid at an adequate rate, for a long enough time, and on the total production of the solar system. I call on the government to mandate a feed-in tariff at:

  • 60 cents per kWh;
  • for at least 15 years; and
  • paid on the entire output of a system via gross production metering

A feed-in tariff set at this level will provide the necessary incentive for individuals to invest their personal finances into solar PV systems, safe in the knowledge that the price paid for electricity generated will adequately pay back this investment over the next 15 years.

Feed-in tariffs have been remarkably successful in over 40 countries internationally, and an adequate feed-in tariff in Victoria has the potential to build an industry in sustainable solutions to climate change, provide an alternative to polluting brown coal, and position the state as a leader in renewable energy in Australia.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing Victoria. I trust that you as the responsible minister (and the Premier and my local elected representative) take this issue seriously and ensure that this policy measure delivers a major expansion of renewable energy leading to real reductions in greenhouse gas pollution.

Can you please advise us whether you support introduction of a feed in tariff, and if so, when it will be introduced?

Yours sincerely

Peter Campbell and Dr Lena Sanci

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