Australia’s solar PV industry has a brighter future following funding in a recent budget to extend the successful Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP) for two years.Sydney, Australia – May 16, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The Howard Government announced the introduction of the solar program in 1999 as part of a suite of greenhouse initiatives negotiated with the Democrats at the time of the introduction of the GST. Prior to this PV systems were tax exempt. The program started on January 1, 2000 and provided households that installed a PV system a rebate of AUD$5/watt (US$3.20), up to a maximum of AUD$7,500 (US$4,800) per household. The rebate was designed to stimulate Australia’s emerging solar power industry. Due to overwhelming public demand, the program was capped in February 2003, effectively bringing the solar PV industry to a halt. In the budget the Federal Government has allocated AUD$11.5 million (US$7.1 million) over two years for the program. “Today’s decision brings Australia’s solar electricity industry back to life,” said Ric Brazzale, executive director of the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “This means the 1000 people directly involved in building and installing solar PV systems can continue to be assured of work. The challenge now is to develop a long term strategy to ensure Australia develops a vibrant world class solar PV industry and can capitalize on the global market estimated to be more than US$20 billion by the end of the decade.” Also in Australia, the Victorian government’s call for a substantial increase in the Commonwealth Mandated Renewable Energy Target (MRET) recognizes the economic as well as environmental benefits Renewable Energy offers, according to the Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). “The Victorian Government recognizes the importance of MRET in creating a vibrant Renewable Energy industry that can delivers local jobs and investment,” said Brazzale. MRET was introduced by the Howard Government as part of the package of measures released prior to the Kyoto climate change conference in November 1997. Its objectives are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to promote Renewable Energy industry development. An independent Panel has been appointed to review MRET and interested parties can make submissions. The Victorian Government’s position was articulated in its submission. “To support the development of the Renewable Energy industry the BCSE believes the target should be increased so as to deliver a real 10 percent increase in market share by 2020 and tailed off to 2035 so as to continue to underpin the development of new capacity to 2020. “It makes good sense for Australia to adopt a Renewable Energy target that is comparable with that of other developed countries,” said Brazzale.