Clean energy fund welcomed, but broad policy needed

The reliable and affordable decarbonisation of Australia’s energy system will need to be underpinned by a comprehensive and durable national policy framework that is broader than more funding for clean energy technologies, the energy industry has said.

The Federal Government today announced a $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund to support emerging technologies transition to commercial deployment.

Australian Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said while the Government’s support for clean energy investment was welcomed, the challenge of delivering a reliable, affordable and low emissions energy system was broader than new sources of clean energy funding.

“Since 2009 we have seen the introduction of a range of support measures for clean energy, including the Renewable Energy Target, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, state and national subsidies, feed-in tariffs and power purchasing agreements,” Mr Warren said.

“Despite all these support measures, clean energy investment in Australia is slowing, not increasing.

“The last decade has seen large volumes of renewables added to the energy mix with a material reduction in the greenhouse intensity of electricity supply. As renewables increase in scale they pose new market challenges we are still yet to solve.

“Current clean energy technologies are different to conventional power stations. Renewables require back up when clean energy, from wind and the sun, is not available. Pushing more renewables into the market without a clearly thought through transition plan creates the increased reliability risks we are now seeing in places like South Australia.

“We need to address these broader energy market issues urgently. We do not want the transformation of the energy system to be undermined by compromised reliability or unnecessary price increases.”