Renewable Energy Action Agenda

In addition to the measures prescribed by law under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (Cth), the Australian government developed a Renewable Energy Action Agenda in 2000 as a joint initiative with industry. The Agenda is to be implemented by the Renewable Energy Action Agenda Group. In October 2002, the Group released the Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap report4 which reflects the views of industry, research and policy-makers, and participants to provide 'pathways' for the development of Australia's renewable energy industry. The report concluded that five key factors determine renewable energy innovation and technology development: international climate change commitments; government policies and programs; economic and social drivers; renewable energy resources; and research and development capability.

The report suggested that while Australia has acknowledged strength in renewable energy research, greater emphasis is required to complete the innovation cycle to capture commercial benefits from the resulting research breakthroughs. This observation was made in the context of rapid international growth in renewable energy technology following public and academic concern about the impact of global warming.

The report classified the Australian renewable energy sector into 10 technology sectors: biomass energy; cogeneration; enabling technologies; fuel costs and hydrogen fuels; geothermal energy; hydro-electricity, tidal energy and wave energy; photovoltaics (PV); remote area power supply (RAPS); solar thermal energy; and wind energy.

The analysis used in the report assumes that commercially successful technologies must be technically developed, appealing to the market, cost competitive and supported by a significant resource base. In order to promote the Australian renewable energy industry, five technology development strategies are proposed:

Ongoing development - entails focusing on increasing the technology mar-ketuptake and reducing costs to become more competitive with fossil fuels, for example bagasse energy;

• Development and commercialisation - where activity in R&D and market development is required, but the focus is on addressing barriers to commercialisation, for example geothermal energy (hot dry rocks and geothermal heat pumps);

Import foreign technologies - where for various reasons the best option is forAustralia to purchase the necessary technology;

• Monitor international developments - entails monitoring international developments and focusing on ancillary technology and associated services, for example the emerging hydrogen economy; and

• Monitor commercial developments - where Australian resources are limited, the limited resources be adopted for development, for example hydrothermal technologies.

Regarding environment and planning legal issues, the report calls for the development of standards for each renewable energy technology. In particular, the

4 Available at <http://www.industry.gov.au/assets/documents/itrinternet/RETRSplitVersion2ch4-lesspage.pdf> (accessed 15 August 2005).

report notes that Australia needs to participate in the development of international standards in order to minimise the non-tariff barriers to Australian exports. Further, the report calls for the establishment of a renewable energy technology and innovation network to promote a culture of market-driven innovation in the renewable energy industry.

The targets for the Group in 2005-06 are: to advise the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources on the development of the renewable energy industry; to assist with the implementation of the government's Energy White Paper,5 particularly the Solar Cities and Wind Energy Forecasting initiatives; and to prepare a report to the Ministerial Council on Energy on rule changes that are required in the National Electricity Market6 to get rid of barriers and maximise the benefits of renewable and distributed generation.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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