MEDIA RELEASE: Wednesday, May 4 2016
Australia must this year increase the pace of large-scale renewable energy development sevenfold if it’s to reach the Renewable Energy Target (RET).
According to a new report released by the Clean Energy Regulator overnight, it is still technically possible for Australia to meet the RET by 2020 but only if a large number of new projects rapidly come online.
Only 409 megawatts of new capacity was committed last year, after a two-year political assault on the target which damaged investment and resulted in large-scale job losses in the industry.
The regulator described last year’s progress as “adequate under the circumstances”, and notes that in order to remain on track towards the 2020 target new commitments in 2016 must increase over seven times to 3000 megawatts.
Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said with no time to lose electricity retailers and all sides of politics must immediately do everything in their power to get projects off the ground.
“By the regulator’s own estimates there are projects ready to go that would deliver 9000 megawatts of power – but we're not seeing shovels in the ground,” Mr Bray said.
“Energy retailers have run out of excuses, and wind and solar-rich regions have run out patience. Retailers must start committing to large numbers of new projects straight away.
“By dragging their feet, retailers run the risk of being fined and this threatens to increase future power prices for everyone.”
Mr Bray says with a federal election looming, Australia needs clear long-term vision from the government for the renewables energy industry.
"Markets need certainty and it's not clear what the government's vision is for renewable energy post-2020. We hope this will be made clear throughout the campaign,” he said.
“Wind farms create jobs and investment in parts of Australia that are traditionally starved of both, so it’s no wonder that there’s strong community support for the industry.
"Under Tony Abbott the industry was trashed, and thousands of jobs were lost in Australia while clean energy boomed around the world.
"There are signs of recovery but what we need is leadership and vision so Australia can tap into the opportunities of a world moving rapidly towards a zero-carbon economy.”
The large-scale Renewable Energy Target requires Australia to generate 33,000 gigawatt hours of additional renewable electricity by 2020 - which is equivalent to the amount of electricity required to power five million houses for a year.
The regulator’s report also found that in 2015:
15.2 million megawatt hours of electricity were generated from large-scale renewable sources - enough to power 2.4 million homes for a year.
Eight projects totalling 409 megawatts were committed to proceed. All new wind projects were committed under the ACT’s wind auction scheme.
Three wind farms totalling 113 megawatts started generating power.
There are 85 wind farms operating in Australia, totalling 4,205 megawatts
A total of 6000 megawatts will need to be committed in 2016 and 2017 to achieve the RET. The regulator expects this to be filled by approximately 75% wind and 25% solar.
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