The latest results from the Clean Energy Outlook – Confidence Index reveal that investors are buoyed by state moves over the last six months to include more renewables in their energy mix, particularly in New South Wales.
Despite the economic downtown associated with COVID-19, the survey, which gains insights directly from industry executives, finds that investor confidence remains strong across both small and large-scale renewables, with the switch to clean energy declared 'inevitable'.
The New South Wales Government’s shift to amend existing planning laws that allow for large-scale battery storage systems, along with a commitment for three renewable energy zones across the state, resulted in a rise in investor confidence from 6.8 out of 10 in December 2019 to 7.5 in June 2020. The NSW Government's strong and positive statements and clear strategy for the transition of the state from one that is highly dependent on coal-fired power to one that is an energy and economic superpower in a low-carbon economy was a key factor in increased investor confidence.
Investor confidence in Victoria also increased slightly from 6.9 to 7.0, while Queensland, which is making progress towards its 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, also saw a surge from 5.6 in December 2019 to 6.8 in June 2020.
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said that while challenges related to the grid and a lack of federal energy policy remain a concern, business is willing to make the most of the opportunities presented.
"State governments are leaning in, and it's working," said Thornton. "There is increased competitiveness following the lead shown by South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. Over 80 per cent of the Australian population lives on the east coast, and with that comes the vast majority of the nation's carbon emissions.
"Investment in clean energy will lower power prices and create jobs – enabling that is good government policy."
The Clean Energy Outlook data also revealed that 56 per cent of employers would be increasing their workforce over the next 12 months, owing to the large number of shovel-ready projects.
"This is great news coming out of COVID-19, but we also know from our recent Clean Energy At Work report that the industry could lose up to 11,000 jobs unless a strong policy landscape is developed that supports renewables," said Thornton. "It's vital that the investment pipeline can give the renewables business the confidence to invest in the development of solid workforce and training practices."
Policy uncertainty at a Federal level remains a concern for investors as does transmission and grid connection, following the trend of the last three Clean Energy Outlook surveys, which are conducted by the Clean Energy Council every six months.