The Australian Aluminium Council has issued a media statement in response to the release of the report by the Expert Panel established to review the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme and its impact on electricity prices and energy markets, as well as its costs and benefits for the renewable energy sector, the manufacturing sector and Australian households.
“We welcome the acknowledgement by the Review Panel that the RET impacts electricity prices for trade exposed businesses such as aluminium smelting and alumina refining – and that significant adjustments to the scheme are required to reduce its cost burden,” Miles Prosser, the Council’s Executive Director said.
The Australian Aluminium Council says that the RET policy imposes costs on Australian smelters that are not paid by the major global competitors of the Australian aluminium industry, thereby significantly restricting their ability to compete in an increasingly difficult commercial environment.
According to the media statement, the current RET scheme costs the aluminium industry approximately $70 million per annum. Since its commencement in 2001, it has cost the industry more than $500 million, and if not fully exempted from the costs of the RET, the Australian smelters could face additional costs of further $300-500 million in the next 5 years.
“Much has changed since the introduction and subsequent expansion of the RET, including much tougher conditions for Australian manufacturing and a reduced demand for electricity. It is entirely proper for the Government to review and adjust the RET in light of these changes,” Mr Prosser said.
“Ultimately, the aluminium industry is unable to continue to subsidise renewable energy generators and therefore we will be pursuing a full exemption from the burden of the RET for aluminium smelting and reduced RET costs for alumina refining.”
The Aluminium Council continues to call on all parties to support the aluminium industry and the investment and employment it creates by removing all cost burdens of the RET scheme from 1 January 2015.