Blue skies on the road ahead for renewable energy

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has said the road ahead for the renewable energy industry is looking much better than the view in the rear vision mirror, as job figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reflect a tough period for the industry.

CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said it is hardly surprising employment numbers were down, given the long period of investment uncertainty weathered by the renewable energy industry during the review of the national Renewable Energy Target (RET).

“The ABS figures show a drop of almost 500 jobs in the 2014/15 financial year compared to the one before, clearly showing the importance of policy stability,” Mr Thornton said.

“RET legislation supported by both major parties was passed in June 2015, which is right at the end of the period these new ABS figures are tracking. A lot has changed since then, and confidence is growing across the sector after a challenging few years.

“Public enthusiasm for renewable energy is high, and the largest solar power plants ever built in Australia have been launched in the last few months at Nyngan, Moree and Broken Hill in New South Wales.

“Rooftop solar power is now mainstream, the large-scale wind and solar part of the industry is primed for a busy few years and everyone is ready for the arrival of battery storage,” he said.

Mr Thornton said with state and federal governments that recognise the immense potential of clean energy, a global climate deal reached last year and bipartisan support returned to the RET, the mood across the industry is upbeat in 2016.

“We are gearing up for an intense period of delivering large-scale projects such as wind and solar power plants between now and the end of the decade, which will create more jobs and investment in regional areas of the country,” he said.

“Obviously we’re still a long way down on the industry peak in 2011-12, but we are looking forward to lots of construction activity under the RET in the coming years.”