New investment in Australia’s electricity system can keep costs down and improve reliability but bipartisan national energy policy is increasingly urgent, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said prolonged under-investment in the electricity system over the last decade had resulted in reduced supply, higher wholesale power prices and increasing risks to energy security.

“A decade-long political debate has created a policy vacuum and spooked investors. We need to accept that the energy system is in transition and long-term policy is now essential to ensure private investment in the most efficient new energy technology and solutions,” Mr Thornton said.

“It is time to accept all 50 of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations to improve energy security. The recommendations from the Finkel Review provide a coordinated approach to delivering an affordable, reliable and cleaner energy system.

“This will involve a suite of new technologies and solutions, including more wind, solar, bioenergy and battery storage. Australia’s existing hydro has an important role, complemented by new pumped hydro as well as potential to use existing generation more flexibly,” he said.

Mr Thornton said all but one of the Finkel Review’s recommendations are in the process of being implemented, with market reform finally accelerating the modernization of the entire system and enhancing its ability to better manage a suite of renewable energy and storage solutions.

“AEMO is taking a range of important and practical steps to ensure our energy security as the power system transitions to clean energy. The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is in the process of working to build a resilient market that no longer leans on ageing coal for synchronous services, something which is essential to ensure we continue to work toward a clean energy future," he said.

“The AEMO report yesterday revealed that the new projects added to the system under the Renewable Energy Target will help to improve reliability over the next few years. More than $8 billion of new clean energy projects are underway in 2017, creating thousands of jobs and building critical infrastructure to keep the lights on and reduce power prices over the next few years..

“Last summer’s heatwaves highlighted the contribution of renewable energy, which essentially saved New South Wales from a blackout when some thermal gas and coal generators went missing in action on 10 February this year.

“The shining light over the past year has been the new investment driven by the 2020 Renewable Energy Target. But without the long-term policy confidence driven by a mechanism such as a Clean Energy Target, we are unlikely to see sufficient new generation from private investors to meet our future energy needs.”

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