$2 billion of ‘unprecedented’ renewables investment in 2017

More than $2 billion worth of renewable energy projects attracted financial commitment in the last three months, according to the Clean Energy Council.

The projects add up to an unprecedented $7.4 billion in investment and more than 3300MW of new renewable energy capacity, which will be under construction or completed in 2017.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said a string of large-scale solar project announcements since February meant more than 4100 direct jobs would be created in a record-breaking year for new investment in the sector.

“Bringing on new forms of energy generation is necessary to ensure continued energy security as ageing coal-fired power continues to close,” Mr Thornton said.

“Following announcements by Infigen Energy, Lyon Solar and Reach Solar Energy, there are now projects that are already under construction, will start construction or have been completed in 2017.

“This adds up to 4105 direct jobs, more than $7.4 billion of investment and 3549.4MW of new renewable energy capacity – the biggest program of works in the history of the industry.”

Mr Thornton said the cost of large-scale technology has halved in the past few years, making it competitive with wind and gas.

“Renewable energy is now the cheapest kind of power generation it is possible to build today, and solar power plants have a relatively short project lead time compared to other technologies,” he said.

“Regional New South Wales and Queensland in particular will enjoy some of the biggest job and investment benefits, while the Victorian Government’s state target is expected to drive more project activity once finalised and legislated.

“Between 5000-6000MW of new generating capacity is required to meet the 2020 large-scale Renewable Energy Target (RET) of 33,000 gigawatt-hours.

“With more than 3400MW of new capacity now under construction and many more projects expected to be finalised in months ahead, industry is making excellent progress toward the 2020 target.”

Mr Thornton said funding from the Federal Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has had a huge impact in driving down the costs of large-scale solar, along with the innovative finance packages developed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.