Australia back in renewable top 10

Queensland's largest solar farm being built on the Sunshine Coast behind Coolum. Photo: Artist's impression

Australia has regained its spot in the top 10 most attractive renewable energy markets, bouncing back from 13th as competition in the sector ­intensifies.

The report by accountants Ernst and Young, incorporating the Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index, attributes the uptick to Canberra’s fresh focus on achieving 33,000 ­gig­awatt hours in additional ­renewable energy by 2020.

However, industry leaders and advocates say the sector needs a long-term vision and support from government if growth is to continue.

Solar Council chief executive John Grimes said every political party must outline their vision for growing the industry beyond 2020 at the coming election.

“Australia used to lead the world in renewable energy. Now we’re struggling to make the top 10,” he said.

“All parties need to commit to at least 50 per cent renewables by 2030 and the restoration of funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).”

Ernst and Young Oceania Power and Utilities leader Matt Rennie said the sector’s investment potential was ­enormous.

A lack of long-term power purchase agreements meant a “mountain of global cash” was being held back, Mr Rennie said.
“It is difficult to comprehend the sheer volume of global superannuation fund money that needs to be invested in energy infrastructure, and particularly non-conventional energy,” he said.

“The market is extremely competitive because of pressure to deploy capital and limited opportunities globally. This puts Australian energy retailers in the box seat.”