How much more will solar cost without the RET?

This is easy. Subject to a few reasonable assumptions, the RET subsidy on solar installations in Adelaide is $700 per Kilowatt. So removal of the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) will raise the cost of a 3 Kw system by $2,100 and a 5 Kw system by $3,500, for example.

 

Most customers are blissfully unaware of the RECs they receive for a solar installation, as they are almost invariably signed over to the supplier as an effective discount. So nearly all the advertised prices you see are post REC discount.

 

There have been varied percentage claims, from a 20 to 80 per cent price rise tipped if the REC system is abolished. This is because the RECs awarded to an installation are based solely on capacity, not quality. The cheapest and the most expensive systems are all equally subsidized. Additional equipment, such as monitors and storage units do not attract any REC subsidy.

 

The RECs that apply to household and small business solar installations are called Small Technology Certificates. An explanation and calculator can be found at http://retaustralia.com.au/rec-calculator/. Heavy polluters, such as coal-fired generators are required to purchase certificates quarterly or pay a penalty. The price per REC fluctuates, but the market for RECs is heavily regulated with the value capped at $40 per certificate. They often sit around $35 each and this is a commonly accepted value used when discounting solar installations.

 

Whether the RET and therefore the RECs are abolished or reduced by the current government remains to be seen. If you’ve been hanging back watching solar technology steadily get cheaper, this may be a good time to invest in your future power consumption.

 

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The way forward

As a species, homo sapiens of the current era find themselves confronted with complex environmental issues such as human induced climate change, rising sea levels, water pollution, excessive land clearing, desertification, overpopulation, drought and famine.

 

This myriad of issues can seem overwhelming to us collectively and individually. Many of the environmental issues that we face today were created by us. While this could make us feel despondent, within this idea of self-made problems also resides the idea that we can solve these problems! The first step is simply for us all to take some individual responsibility for our collective circumstances. Only then can we become part of the solution.

 

Despite the scale of our environmental problems, there are solutions. These lie not only in new technologies but also in new ways of living. We cannot change overnight but we can change gradually and methodically to ways of doing things that are more harmonious with our natural systems, other life forms and also with each other.

 

Solutions need to be found at technological, social and economic levels. Replacing fossil fuel generated heat and electricity is an important first step. This can be done with solar hot water systems, heat pumps, solar space heaters, grid connected and standalone solar power systems and wind turbines to name a few. All these technologies reduce greenhouse gas production. The use of LED lighting and energy efficient, passive, solar building design allows for reductions in energy consumption without compromising living standards.

 

Landscape design using grey water and black water recycling technologies can drastically reduce our water consumption. The employment of nanotechnology and 3D printing in manufacturing enables efficient resource use, optimizing quality of life and minimizing our collective global footprint.  Recycling all waste materials where possible and designing all products to be easily recycled can dramatically reduce our resource demands.

 

All this conjoined with intelligent urban design, a greater utilization of electric vehicles and the localization of agricultural production can make a huge contribution to minimizing some of these self-created environmental problems. With the development of sustainable economic systems and the reining in of the population explosion, we can achieve healthy ecosystems and promote biodiversity. We have a plan for a better modus operandi on planet Earth.

 

So let us begin.

 

 

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