Renewable energy investment stalls – Clean Energy Council

New investment in solar and wind farms has fallen risking power price rises and future energy reliability, according to the Clean Energy Council.

A week after it was revealed the 2020 large-scale Renewable Energy Target (RET) would be met, the council said investment is threatened because there is no energy and climate policy to replace it.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said: “Investors have been forced to balance their record enthusiasm for Australian wind and solar projects with a lack of national policy, growing threats of government interference in the energy market and a range of out-of-date regulations.

“With Australia’s coal-fired power stations ageing rapidly, it is essential new clean energy projects are built now to ensure lower power prices and improved reliability when these old clunkers retire from service.”

The Clean Energy Council released figures which showed quarterly financial commitments in new renewable energy projects reached a high of over 4500 MW in late 2018.

They have now collapsed to less than 800 MW in each of the first two quarters of 2019.

The analysis of Australia’s clean energy generation investment outlook finds that while large-scale renewable energy no longer needs subsidies, long-term policy certainty and regulatory reform are crucial to giving confidence to investors.

Thornton said that large-scale renewable energy was confronting a range of regulatory barriers, as a result of an energy grid and set of rules that were no longer fit-for-purpose.

“The industry is working closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and the networks to address many of these issues in the short term.

“But (there is a) need for strategic investment in the electricity network to service the best zones for renewable energy across the country and unlock more cheap, clean power.”

Thornton said industry was now unlocking the potential of energy storage across Australia – 500 MW of large-scale battery projects have already been financially committed and 9000 MW of pumped hydro potential identified.

“This demonstrates that there is no shortage of potential from energy storage to support the continued deployment of variable renewable energy projects and to meet peak power load as ageing coal-fired power stations exit the system,” Thornton said.

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