The clean energy industry welcomed calls today by the Prime Minister to harmonise renewable energy policy, to ensure a strong, stable and long-term renewable energy policy across all of Australia.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said Prime Minister Turnbull’s comments today suggested the need to develop stronger renewable energy policy that would encourage new investment beyond the term of the Commonwealth Renewable Energy Target (RET).

“Both the Prime Minister and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, along with many other experts, have made it clear that the power outages in South Australia were the result of freak weather conditions that took down huge electricity pylons,” Mr Thornton said.

“If we are now talking about the harmonisation of state and federal schemes following the torturous review of the RET which ended last year, this can only mean longer and stronger targets that encourage new investment beyond 2020.

“It is important to recognise that investment stability is crucial and any discussion about future policy harmonisation must respect the massive investment already in place and the need for continued policy stability to build confidence in the Australian industry.”

Mr Thornton said the Commonwealth RET remained the most critical policy for increasing the level of renewable energy in Australia, and has underpinned billions of dollars of investment across the country to date.

“The RET was introduced in 2001 by the Howard Government and has been expanded and refined a number of times. State and territory governments have increasingly recognised the benefits of renewable energy, both in terms of the significant job and investment benefits that wind and solar farms can bring, and its role in helping them diversify and transition away from coal as the world moves towards a low-carbon future,” he said.

“The ACT in particular has backed its higher ambition with an effective policy mechanism, while Victoria and Queensland has recently announced stronger ambitions and are consulting on policy design. This leadership has been crucial to rebuild investment confidence following a challenging period for the industry.

“A strong national policy is always preferable and we welcome the statements from the Prime Minister and the opportunity to deliver this through the COAG Energy Council, which has been revitalised through Minister Frydenberg’s leadership. We look forward to working with the COAG Energy Council to ensure this transition is facilitated by strong and well-coordinated renewable energy policy.
 
“The recent events in South Australia simply reinforce the need for a strategic plan to transition the energy sector, and renewable energy is fundamental to this. Earlier this year, the Clean Energy Council released the comprehensive Power Shift blueprint with a suite of policies to achieve a zero-emissions energy sector.”

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