After announcing cuts to the Federal Government solar hot water rebates, the Rudd Government has released positive new changes to its Renewable Energy Target (RET)scheme which will see homeowners rewarded with a rebate for switching to solar hot water heaters.

From 1 January 2011, the Renewable Energy Target, which guarantees 20 per cent of Australia’s energy in 2020 will come from renewable sources, will include two parts: the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target (LRET).

The LRET, which covers large-scale renewable energy projects like wind farms, commercial solar and geothermal, will deliver the vast majority of the 2020 target, while the SRES will cover small-scale technologies such as solar panels and solar hot water systems, delivering the remainder of the target.

The SRES will provide a fixed price of $40 per megawatt hour of electricity produced, providing direct support for households that take action to reduce emissions through Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

Mr Romano Bolzon, National Business Manager for Ecosmart Solar Hot Water Systems , has welcomed the move. "The changes to the RET scheme will encourage the uptake of both large scale generation projects as well as small scale household technologies like solar hot water, to bring Australia closer to its 2020 emissions targets.

“This is great news particularly for the solar hot water industry, whose merits in the RET scheme have previously been dismissed by large scale renewable energy sectors, due to solar hot water’s popularity and as a result, contribution to decreased RECs prices.

“Solar water heaters are an immediate, low-cost and very successful means of saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. The changes to the RET scheme will give homeowners greater certainty in their decision to invest in environmental hot water, and they will be rewarded with a stabilised and generous RECs incentive,” added Bolzon.

Under this fixed price, a Sydney household that installs a 1.5 kilowatt solar panel system in 2011 will benefit from an upfront subsidy of $6200. If the same household decides to install a typical solar water heater they will receive $1200 in support under the SRES.

“The new scheme adds so much more to the previous scheme and provides an increased rebate offer for homeowners and completely replaces the previous reduced rebates. After the debacle of the Green Loans scheme and Insulation rebate program where solar hot water unintentionally got caught the in the debate, the Government has now separated the two," concludes Bolzon.