The Australian renewable energy industry had a record year in 2017, with 50 large-scale renewable energy projects committed. This resulted in more than $9.3 billion in investment, 4670 MW of new capacity and created more than 5400 new direct jobs in large-scale projects.
The rooftop solar PV market also experienced its best ever year, with more than 1000 MW of new small-scale capacity installed by Australian households and businesses. Australia’s total installed rooftop solar capacity passed 6000 MW in 2017, making Australia one of the world leaders in rooftop solar installations.
The significant gains made by the renewable energy industry in 2017 highlight the strong demand that currently exists in the Australian energy market.
However, the ongoing uncertainty around long-term energy policy means that the continuation of this growth into 2018 and beyond is far from assured.
If the government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) is to be successful, it will need strong support from the major state and federal political parties as well as the electricity industry. But to gain this support, it must be developed to a point where it can clearly show it is capable of delivering new clean energy investment, as well as lowering both emissions and power prices.
While the Clean Energy Council continues to believe that the Clean Energy Target recommended by the Finkel Review is the best policy option for the renewable energy industry, we are keeping an open mind about the NEG until more details are made available.
The industry badly needs some certainty, and the last thing that we want is for a potentially viable policy option to fall victim to partisan politics before it has been fully investigated.
This sets up 2018 to be another crucial year for the Australian energy sector. As 2017 showed, having a viable long-term energy policy – like the Renewable Energy Target has been – is crucial to creating an environment of investment certainty, which the energy market needs to build the new generation assets that will reduce energy prices and help Australia transition to a clean energy future.