While 2017 was a record year on many fronts for the renewable energy industry, it is just a glimpse of the unprecedented level of activity expected in the next couple of years, Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said in launching the Clean Energy Australia Report today.
Mr Thornton said the 1.1 GW of new rooftop solar capacity last year was the most in Australian history, eclipsing the previous record in 2012. And the 16 large-scale renewable energy projects completed during the year added 700 MW of new generation to the mix.
“Perhaps most significantly, the large-scale renewable projects either under construction or which had attracted finance add up to more than seven times the amount of work completed in 2017. These 50 projects add up to 5300 MW of new capacity and 5750 direct jobs,” Mr Thornton said.
“There are now enough projects in the system to meet the 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET). Given we were only about halfway to the large-scale target at the beginning of 2017, it shows the remarkable level of deal-making and project activity during the year. However, it also shows that long-term bipartisan policy has been critical for investment in the energy sector, and that policy certainty beyond 2020 is becoming increasingly urgent.”
The 2018 Clean Energy Australia report is a summary of the previous year in clean energy and provides insight into the exciting future for the sector.
One of the changes from previous years is that hydro generation was significantly down in 2017 compared to the year before, mostly as a result of reduced rainfall in key catchment areas. While the drop in hydro was mostly offset by a rise in other kinds of renewable energy generation, the overall percentage of clean energy in the national mix dipped slightly from 17.3 to 17 per cent.
“The RET has been the key policy encouraging investment in both small and large-scale renewable energy, and the large number of projects which will come online over the next few years is predicted to reduce power prices by an average of 6.2 per cent,” Mr Thornton said.
“With the 2020 target now in hand, the whole energy sector is looking for policy certainty that will enable it to continue to invest far beyond 2020.
“The development of the National Energy Guarantee seems to be heading in the right direction, but the level of emissions reduction currently planned under the policy is unlikely to encourage the new renewable energy to continue to drive down power prices as our old coal power plants continue to close,” Mr Thornton said.
The 2018 Clean Energy Australia report can be downloaded from the Clean Energy Council website.
Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.