Renewables drop off

At a time when we need private sector investment to fuel economic recovery, the Clean Energy Council warns that investment in renewables is falling off a cliff with the number of large-scale renewable energy projects committed in the last quarter the lowest since 2017.

Craig Parker, Democrats Economics Team

Three projects last quarter with just 410 MW of new capacity is less than half the average for 2019.

“This fall in investment reflects the growing risks being placed on renewable energy developers across the country. A recent analysis by the Clean Energy Council revealed that the primary drivers for this fall in investment relate to the challenges associated with the grid connection process, unpredictable government policy interventions and underinvestment in network capacity creating congestion and constraints.

Clean Energy Council CEO, Kane Thornton

These issues have scared off investors in renewable energy despite the fact that it is now the cheapest form of energy production. For the first time in years, energy prices are dropping thanks to renewables. Since the Coalition scrapped the carbon tax, energy prices have been rising.

The recent Integrated System Plan (ISP) compiled by Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) confirms the importance of investing in cost-effective measures.

The ISP analysis confirms that as our coal plants retire, the least-cost transition of the NEM will be to a highly diverse portfolio consisting of distributed energy resources (DER) and variable renewable energy (VRE), supported by multiple dispatchable resouces.

To enable the expected rise in renewable energy, the ISP identifies strategic investments in transmission infrastructure and renewable energy zones (REZs), which when coupled with low-cost firming resources, will be the most cost-effective way to add generation capacity and balance variable resources across the NEM.

Ms Audrey Zibelman, AEMO MD and CEO

As we have pointed out before, the Coalition’s secret push for a gas-led recovery is driven by powerful vested interests, completely ignores the cheapest form of energy production, locks Australia into higher energy prices and greenhouse gas emissions, and means great uncertainty for investors and consumers for at least the next decade.

A gas-led recovery would be a disaster and a complete waste of taxpayer funds. Little wonder it’s being done in secret. 

Renew Economy describes the gas industry as dysfunctional. How is it that Pakistan can secure a gas deal for around $3Gj equivalent and Australian customers are paying double that? How is it that Australian gas producers are selling the gas on the international market at half the price of what local business customers are paying? ACCC Chair, Rod Sims is concerned at this, saying the widening gap will have an impact on industry. 

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