Australia's Renewable Energy Target (RET) is a Federal Government policy designed to ensure that at least 33,000 Gigawatt-hour (GWh) of Australia's electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020.

About the Renewable Energy Target

The RET consists of two main schemes:

  • the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET), which creates a financial incentive for larger renewable energy power stations
  • the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), which encourages owners to install small-scale renewable energy systems such as rooftop solar, solar water heaters, heat pumps, and small-scale wind and hydro systems.

Progress towards the RET

Approximately 17,500 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of renewable energy was generated in 2016 towards meeting the large-scale component of the Renewable Energy Target (RET). This puts the industry just over halfway towards achieving it.

Add to that the unprecedented levels of commercial activity in 2017, with $5.2 billion worth of projects having secured finance in just the first five months of the year, and the industry is on its way to more delivering more than half of what is needed to meet the rest of the RET between 2016 and 2020.

Figures as at 30 May 2017

About half of the projects which are under construction or will start in 2017 under the RET are large-scale solar, due to a plunge in costs over the last few years. Support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and innovative finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) have pushed the price of large-scale solar down to almost half what it was just a couple of years ago. 

Benefits of the Renewable Energy Target

The Renewable Energy Target doesn't cost much – in fact, in the long run, it will save every Australian household up to $140 on their electricity bill each year. It also provides huge economic and community benefits, especially in regional areas.

Three facts about the Renewable Energy Target:

  1. Australian households will save hundreds of dollars on their power bills thanks to the Renewable Energy Target.
  2. It generates investment in homegrown Australian industry.
  3. It has created tens of thousands of Australian jobs, with thousands more on the way.

The 2015 RET review

The RET was reviewed by the Government and reduced in June 2015 from the previously legislated 41,000 GWh to 33,000 GWh. The deal was a compromise brokered by the Clean Energy Council following 15 months of lost investment confidence caused by the review of the policy.

While the Clean Energy Council is disappointed by the level of the reduction of the target, an agreement on the RET opened the way to unlock massive investment and job opportunities in Australia. The RET agreement also removed previously legislated RET reviews which were to occur every two years which compounded the lack of investment confidence.

The RET has been operating since 2001.

The Clean Energy Council's campaign

Our campaign to save the Renewable Energy Target was massive, including more than 300 meetings with politicians, 11 briefing papers and reports and 50+ media releases.

The outlook

With the combination of the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, the target is expected to create more than $40.4 billion worth of investment1 and more than 15,200 jobs2.

The target is enough electricity to power the equivalent of at least 5 million average homes for a year.

For further details about the Renewable Energy Target you can read our briefing paper.

Find out more:

1. Clean Energy Council briefing paper - A bipartisan Renewable Energy Target: The huge opportunities for Australia
2. Clean Energy Council briefing paper - A bipartisan Renewable Energy Target: The huge opportunities for Australia