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Renewables industry rides wave of confidence, but concern remains about long-term policy

A new survey of CEOs and executives across the renewable energy industry has found strong confidence in short-term investments but concern about policy uncertainty for the future, the Clean Energy Council’s Chief Executive Kane Thornton said when launching the Australian Clean Energy Summit (ACES) at the ICC in Sydney today.

Mr Thornton said the summit was being held at a time when the fate of the proposed National Energy Guarantee hangs in the balance, and during a year of record activity and economic investment in renewables and energy storage.

“The Clean Energy Outlook survey we are releasing shows cautious optimism from the executives who responded. The industry has been in a record growth phase, but those who have been around for a while have not forgotten the lean years in the middle of the decade caused by chronic political and policy uncertainty,” Mr Thornton said.

“Renewable energy like wind and solar is now the lowest-cost generation it is possible to build, but if we get the policy and regulatory settings wrong it will hurt economic activity across the sector.”

The inaugural Clean Energy Outlook includes responses from 100 CEOs and senior executives across the renewable energy and storage industries. Ranked out of 10, the group’s level of confidence to make investments over the next three years averaged 6.9.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of those surveyed were planning to hire more staff in the next 12 months, while only 4 per cent expected their number of staff to drop during this period. The two biggest common issues affecting businesses were policy uncertainty and regulatory change.

“This year’s Australian Clean Energy Summit comes after 18 months of extraordinary economic opportunities for the industry and regional parts of the country because of the Renewable Energy Target (RET). It has attracted a capacity crowd of 1000 senior executives and policymakers to Sydney for the event,” Mr Thornton said.

“We are confident this prosperity will continue over the next couple of years, but it’s essential that we can return secure bipartisan support to ensure the transition to clean energy continues at the lowest possible cost to consumers.

“Over the next few days at the ICC in Sydney, we will hear from a huge range of speakers about many different parts of the energy story – generation, transmission, system stability, finance, international trends, innovation and so much more. It’s a fantastic time to be involved with this industry.”

Speakers in the morning session of ACES on Tuesday include:

  • Mark Butler, Shadow Climate Change and Energy Minister
  • Don Harwin, New South Wales Energy and Utilities Minister
  • Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian Energy Minister
  • Richard Di Natale, Australian Greens Leader
  • Audrey Zibelman, CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator
  • Jeff Connolly, Chair and CEO, Siemens Asia Pacific
  • John Titchen, Managing Director, Goldwind Australia
  • Tim Nelson, Chief Economist, AGL

The Australian Clean Energy Summit is being held at ICC Sydney on Tuesday 31 July and Wednesday 1 August. More details about the program and speakers can be found at www.cleanenergysummit.com.au/agenda. The Clean Energy Council would like to thank the event’s major sponsor Goldwind Australia.

The results of the Clean Energy Outlook can be found at www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au.

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