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Towards a dignified and sustainable electricity generation sector in Australia : a comparative review of three models

Queensland University of Technology
Publication Date
  • Climate Change
  • Electricity Generation
  • Electricity Markets
  • Environmental Governance
  • Environmental Law
  • Feed-In Tariffs
  • Human Dignity
  • International Environmental Law
  • Quota Mechanisms
  • Regulation
  • Renewable Electricity
  • Renewable Energy
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards
  • Renewable Sourced Electricity
  • Sustainable Development
  • Tradable Green Certificates
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Law


Electricity is the cornerstone of modern life. It is essential to economic stability and growth, jobs and improved living standards. Electricity is also the fundamental ingredient for a dignified life; it is the source of such basic human requirements as cooked food, a comfortable living temperature and essential health care. For these reasons, it is unimaginable that today's economies could function without electricity and the modern energy services that it delivers. Somewhat ironically, however, the current approach to electricity generation also contributes to two of the gravest and most persistent problems threatening the livelihood of humans. These problems are anthropogenic climate change and sustained human poverty. To address these challenges, the global electricity sector must reduce its reliance on fossil fuel sources. In this context, the object of this research is twofold. Initially it is to consider the design of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (Cth) (Renewable Electricity Act), which represents Australia's primary regulatory approach to increase the production of renewable sourced electricity. This analysis is conducted by reference to the regulatory models that exist in Germany and Great Britain. Within this context, this thesis then evaluates whether the Renewable Electricity Act is designed effectively to contribute to a more sustainable and dignified electricity generation sector in Australia. On the basis of the appraisal of the Renewable Electricity Act, this thesis contends that while certain aspects of the regulatory regime have merit, ultimately its design does not represent an effective and coherent regulatory approach to increase the production of renewable sourced electricity. In this regard, this thesis proposes a number of recommendations to reform the existing regime. These recommendations are not intended to provide instantaneous or simple solutions to the current regulatory regime. Instead, the purpose of these recommendations is to establish the legal foundations for an effective regulatory regime that is designed to increase the production of renewable sourced electricity in Australia in order to contribute to a more sustainable and dignified approach to electricity production.

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