The Abbott government’s RET Review is stalling $1 billion worth of investment and preventing new jobs from coming online.
“Close to $1 billion of renewable energy projects have been put on ice pending the outcome of the government’s Renewable Energy Target review,” reports the Australian Financial Review, “as uncertainties over whether the target will be abolished stalk the industry and investors.”
Australia’s renewable energy sector is in a holding position while it waits for the recommendations of the RET Review panel and the Abbott government’s response.
The worst-case scenario is a scrapping or cutting the renewables target. According to research by energy market analyst Intelligent Energy Systems Advisory, scrapping the Renewable Energy Target would kill off $10 billion of investment in the energy sector. This outcome would cost over 4,000 jobs.
The uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Energy Target has stalled wind energy projects. As the most competitive renewable energy generation, the RET is a key driver for the rollout of wind farms.
In February it emerged that Origin Energy would hold off building its Stockyard Hill wind farm until the RET review is released and government’s response is known. The Australian Financial Review show Origin Energy isn’t alone. The Australian Financial Review:
Spanish company Acciona, which owns and operates two wind farms in Australia and has an interest in a third, says it has three more projects worth a collective $750 million that are on hold and potentially at risk.
It estimates the projects, all in Victoria, would deliver 350 jobs in the short term.
Its Australian managing director of energy, Andrew Thomson, said head office in Spain was watching the progress of the review closely.
“It’s like any international business. You have limited capital to invest. You’re making investment decisions around the world and every time you put a business case up to invest, it’s being compared to other opportunities around the world,” he said. “For the last few years, we’ve been pretty much at a standstill. From the point of view of an investor, what we need to see is stability and predictability.”
Another renewable energy company with wind farms it its portfolio is Infigen Energy. It has five wind farms worth $30 million in the development pipeline:
“We have over 1000 megawatts of wind and large-scale solar developments which are approved and they’ve already been through the planning approval process. We’ve spent a lot of money on those already,” Mr George said. “There’s an immediate cost which is the lease payments we have to keep making notwithstanding these projects not going anywhere.”
Regardless of their political allegiances, Australians want more renewable energy. The mounting costs of the RET Review, particularly the jobs it is stalling, reflect poorly on the Abbott government.
- If you want to help a Yes 2 Renewables campaign to Protect The RET please email: leigh.ewbank [at] foe.org.au
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