Paris targets require planning and policy: industry

EPA, emissions, investment, CCS

The idea that Australia’s record level of renewable energy investment will continue in the current federal policy void is an exercise in wishful thinking, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) said in response to reports today.

The reports are in relation to a study released by the Australian National University (ANU) that has found Australia is installing renewable power per person each year faster than any other country, helping to meet its Paris Agreement emissions target five years early.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said while the study is welcome, the idea that the energy sector will deliver our entire Paris climate commitments would require renewable energy to maintain or improve on the record levels of activity in 2018.

“The reality is that the federal government’s current approach to the energy sector is undermining confidence in future investment, which is essential to reduce emissions across the energy sector and the entire economy,” Mr Thornton said.

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“The clean energy sector has the potential to make a huge contribution to reducing both emissions and power bills, as suggested by the ANU. But one of the biggest drivers of investment – the national Renewable Energy Target – has now been achieved. There is nothing to replace it.

“We need credible bipartisan policy to give investors confidence and to continue the record levels of clean energy investment we are currently seeing.

“We need investment in the electricity network to most efficiently connect the best renewable energy zones across the country and create more capacity to allow new projects to connect.

“And we need batteries and pumped hydro storage from private and public projects such as Snowy 2.0 and Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation.

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“None of this will happen by accident. It needs planning, consultation and political leadership. The current lack of federal government climate policy, combined with ad-hoc market interventions, risks squandering the amazing opportunities outlined by the ANU,” he said.

Minister for Energy Angus Taylor said in a statement, the research also recognises the need for investment in new, dispatchable generation and storage.

“Despite record investment in renewables, we have seen significant supply and demand pressures in the NEM this summer.

“Conditions experienced in January in New South Wales, South Australia and particularly Victoria where 200,000 customers experienced blackouts, reinforce the need for more investment in reliable 24/7 generation.

“The Government is backing 24/7 reliable power by underwriting new electricity generation. This will improve competition, increase supply and reduce wholesale prices.

“The very strong response to the Government’s Underwriting New Generation Investments program demonstrates there is no shortage of willingness to invest in Australia’s future energy supply.”