A new global clean energy report released overnight shows Australia slipping behind the pace, with 144 countries now adopting renewable energy targets and renewable energy powering about a fifth of the world.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive David Green said while Australia’s renewable energy industry was increasingly at a standstill, the REN21 report showed strong global momentum on renewable energy, as governments around the world increasingly recognized the many benefits of shifting their energy use towards cleaner sources.

“With more than 140 countries now adopting renewable energy targets in some form, Australia is part of a mainstream global move towards cleaner sources of power such as solar, wind, bioenergy, hydro, ocean and geothermal energy,” Mr Green said.

“But Australia is at risk of being left behind as other countries continue to strengthen their targets for renewable energy. The process of constantly reviewing  Australia’s Renewable Energy Target is destabilising the market and stalling local investment.”

Mr Green said US President Barack Obama announced another acceleration in renewable energy construction this week as part of a comprehensive clean energy package.

“China has introduced an ambitious clean energy program to deal with its air pollution, and in 2013 the installation of new renewable energy capacity in China passed fossil fuel and nuclear power for the first time. Last year alone China installed more wind and solar than any other country in the world,” he said.

“India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to provide enough solar power to run at least one light bulb in every home. And meanwhile some of the world’s largest economies are those with the most renewable energy installed, including the United States, Germany and Canada.  

“Australia has some of the best sun, wind and waves in the world. The Renewable Energy Target needs to be left to get on with the job it was designed to do under former Prime Minister John Howard and expanded in 2009 with the support of the major parties. Business can then get on with driving the creation of much-needed jobs and investment in partnership with local communities.”

Key results from REN21’s 2014 Global Status Report include:

  • By early 2014, 144 countries had renewable energy targets, an increase of six from the year before
  • An estimated 6.5 million people worked directly or indirectly in the renewable energy sector in 2013
  • For the first time, more solar than wind power was installed worldwide in 2013
  • China accounted for nearly a third of the global renewable energy capacity added in 2013
  •  China’s new renewable energy capacity exceeded its new fossil fuel capacity for the first time
  •  72 per cent of new energy capacity in the European Union came from renewable energy for the sixth straight year, a stark turnaround from a decade earlier when fossil fuel investment accounted for about 80 per cent of new generation capacity.

REN21 Chair Arthouros Zervos said global perceptions of renewable energy had shifted considerably with the many technology advances and rapid deployment of renewable energy technologies over the last decade.

The full report is available for download from the REN21 website.

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.