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Clean energy executives planning for the future after two years of record growth

Australia’s renewable energy sector has just had its two biggest years in history but the future of the industry remains messy and uncertain, as shown by a survey of senior executives released at the Australian Clean Energy Summit in Sydney today.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said $20 billion of private investment had flowed into large-scale renewable energy in 2018 and it was the biggest ever year for rooftop solar. But the large-scale Renewable Energy Target (RET) has now been achieved and there is no long term policy to give investors certainty beyond 2020.

“While the indicators in the latest Clean Energy Outlook Index are still strong, the level of confidence in the future of clean energy investment has fallen since December 2018. Close to two thirds (62 per cent) of the executives responding expected to increase staffing levels in the next 12 months, compared to 83 per cent in December,” Mr Thornton said.

“The industry is navigating a range of challenges. The top concern for those surveyed was grid connection and network access, followed by a lack of federal policy and then unnecessary regulation.

“While the industry is working closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator and the energy networks to address the challenges with the grid, these are complex issues which take time, planning, major investment and political support. Consequently the average confidence level has declined slightly to 6.6 out of 10, down from 7.1 six months ago,” he said.

About 800 delegates will gather at the Australian Clean Energy Summit at the ICC in Sydney today to hear insights from some of the industry’s leaders, as well as looking to the future as Australia moves towards a zero-emission energy sector.

Speakers at the conference include:

  • NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean
  • Tesla Chair Robyn Denholm
  • Energy Security Board Chair Kerry Schott AO
  • EnergyAustralia Chief Executive Catherine Tanna
  • Goldwind Australia Chief Executive John Titchen
  • Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio
  • Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO
  • Pacific Hydro CEO and Clean Energy Council Chair Rachel Watson

Mr Thornton said while renewable energy investment no longer requires new subsidy, it does require long-term energy policy certainty.

“The momentum of this industry is incredible, but without some form of national policy leadership investment in new clean energy will be more challenging.. I’m looking forward to hearing perspectives about what the future holds from some of the most insightful people in the country and beyond,” he said.

The Australian Clean Energy Summit runs at the ICC Sydney on Tuesday and Wednesday 30-31 July. The full program is available at https://www.cleanenergysummit.com.au/agenda. The full results of the Clean Energy Outlook confidence index are available on the Clean Energy Council website.

The Clean Energy Council would like to thank Goldwind Australia, the major sponsor of the event.

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information.