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Clean energy investment confidence high, but policy void hurting long-term prospects

A new survey released by the Clean Energy Council shows concern from industry executives about long-term investment certainty and connecting new wind, solar and storage projects to the electricity grid.

A new survey released by the Clean Energy Council shows concern from industry executives about long-term investment certainty and connecting new wind, solar and storage projects to the electricity grid.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said short-term confidence was understandably high in the midst of a record year for the industry, but the continuing lack of national energy and climate policies beyond 2020 raised questions for executives across the industry.

“While more than $26 billion worth of projects were completed or underway in 2018, executives are very conscious that the future remains uncertain in the absence of federal policy,” Mr Thornton said.

The December Clean Energy Outlook had responses from approximately 60 senior executives representing businesses with a combined net worth of more than $17 billion and close to 3000 industry employees. Confidence was high in the short term and more than 80 per cent of those polled expected to increase staff in the next year. But the lack of federal energy and climate policy continued to rate as an area of high concern over the longer term.

On the plus side, 83 per cent of those surveyed expected to increase staff in the short term, with only 1.7 per cent anticipating a decrease in staff numbers. The survey found that the recent Victorian election and government policy agenda gave executives the highest confidence rating of any state to invest (7.8 out of 10), followed by New South Wales (7.3) and Queensland (7.0).

Mr Thornton said industry executives rated grid connection and network access as the number one business challenge facing the industry, with policy uncertainty close behind.

“We absolutely acknowledge that grid operators and network businesses are dealing with more applications to connect to the grid than they have ever seen, but project developers need transparency and certainty about how long the process will take and what it is likely to cost,” Mr Thornton said.

“State governments have done their bit to fill the national climate and energy policy void with their own initiatives to encourage clean energy, but the energy and business sectors are still seeking certainty.”

The latest Clean Energy Outlook is available on the Clean Energy Council website.

Quotes from executives completing the survey include:

Investment confidence: “Would be '10' if the Federal Government was proactive in supporting the development of renewable energy infrastructure”

Employment: “We started the business in 2018 – we have 8 employees now and will have 20 next year”

Business challenges: “The approval process for grid connection and network access for new renewable products is very slow”.

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