A feed-in tariff is a renewable energy law that obliges energy suppliers to buy electricity produced from renewable resources at a fixed price, usually over a fixed period - even from householders. These legal guarantees ensure investment security, and the support of all viable renewable energy technologies. Supporters argue that the feed-in model, if implemented effectively around the world, would greatly assist the energy revolution that is so desperately required; through CO2 reduction, market creation and development, job creation and improved energy security.
South Australia currently leads the way in Australia with recent legislation in February 2008 providing the first solar feed-in laws in Australia which pay a premium to consumers South Australian householders and small energy consumers using solar power will now be paid twice the value of electricity they put back into the electricity grid.
South Australian Premier Mike Rann said the scheme is a major improvement on previous systems where surplus power was only matched dollar for dollar.
“Climate Change is the greatest threat facing our world and I’m very proud to see South Australia again leading the way,” Mr Rann said.
Internationally the “Feed in Tariff” system has been introduced in 16 of the 25 European states and another seven countries outside Europe including Canada, China and Israel. There is no doubt that Germany is the pioneer of the “Feed in Tariff” system and now with more than 300,000 photovoltaic systems in Germany -- the energy law had planned for 100,000.
Spread out across the country, they are owned by legions of homeowners, farmers and small businesses who are capitalizing on the government-backed march into renewable energy. By tapping the daylight for electricity -- which power companies are obliged to buy for 20 years at more than triple market prices -- they are at the vanguard of a grassroots movement in the fight against climate change.
"It's grown much faster than anyone thought it would," Juergen Trittin, the former Environment Minister who masterminded the scheme, told Reuters. He was mocked at the time for his claims it would create jobs and not hurt the economy.
There are now 250,000 jobs in Germany in the renewables energy sector. Asbeck expects the number of jobs in solar power alone to double to 90,000 over the next five years and hit 200,000 in 2020. The power firms are obliged to buy solar electricity for 49 cents per kilowatt hour -- or nearly four times market rates.
The law has also since served as a model for other countries including Spain, Portugal, Greece, France and Italy.