German-style feed-in system to promote clean energies coming to Western Australia


Perth, 12 April 09 -- Western Australia is en route to German-style government support funding for all clean energy technologies. The state's Upper House has given unanimous support to a renewable energy feed-in-tariff.

The move was initiated and driven by the Greens member of the Legislative Council (Upper House), Paul Llewellyn, who's been lobbying for this for four years. For a short time longer Greens hold the balance of power in WA which has a Conservative (like CDU-CSU) government dependent on Green and independent members.


Energy Minister Peter Collier told parliament on 1 April: "I am very mindful of the benefits of the feed-in tariff. I am very mindful of how significant it is in the minds of people in the community. If I have received correspondence on one issue more than any other since becoming a minister, it is about what the government will do about the feed-in tariff. We have committed AUD13.5 million to the gross feed-in tariff.

"The Sustainable Energy Development Office is currently working out the structure of the feed-in tariff. It is another example of the way in which the community as a whole is embracing renewable energy sources."

Paul Llewellyn visited Germany where he talked to their Greens, energy companies and government officials about the German support system. To explain it to stakeholders  in Australia, he brought over Hans-Josef Fell, a German Greens MP, credited with designing their system. 

Paul explained to me that The Greens federal Senator Christine Milne took a bill to the Senate with much the same content as the WA proposals but was turned down by the Rudd Labor government.

Paul, who was praised in Perth by Minister Collier "for bringing this motion to the Legislative Council" says he will work through the Greens network to get the same kind of action happening in the other states and in that way increase the pressure on Rudd.

He would next help to write the necessary legislation "to make sure Collier's bureaucrats don't water it down".

When I asked Paul why there's been practically nothing in the mainstream media about the WA development, he said, "they just don't understand what it's about".

The German system is recognised globally as the one that best promotes clean energies and is being adopted by more and more countries.

The site explains what a gross feed in tariff (FiT) is and why it's better than the net FiT's paid in the other Australian states (bar ACT, which also uses gross).

How it would work

Ray Wills, Chief Executive of the WA Sustainable Energy Association (WA SEA), has helped me out with some explanation of how the proposed WA system would work. So be mindful that he speaks for the peak body for the sustainable energy industry in Western Australia, "the business part of the solution to climate change" as they like to tout themselves.  


System owners will receive the value of up to 60c per kilowatt-hour for all electricity generated (gross generation) payable for systems of 1 - 10 kilowatts.
• The feed-in tariff will be paid for sufficient time to pay for the system cost after accounting for capital subsidies, grants and rebates. This is likely to vary between two and nine years.
• To be eligible, households must contract to purchase 100% renewable energy from the grid.
• After system capital costs are recovered, system owners will revert to the Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme.
"Thus the WA system only covers the capital cost - which in our view is fair enough," Ray writes.

"In terms of Paul Llewellyn's bill - WA SEA supports a broadly based feed-in tariff (FiT), tiered with a reducing rate of FiT from domestic to small to medium enterprises to commercial scale - our view is the commercial FiT should only be available to base or peak load generation. Wind could only be eligible in that scenario if it had some form of storage."

Ray argues that "a broadly based feed-in tariff is the best way to create market certainty and a commercial environment that will yield an innovative supply of renewable energy".