Record renewables investment puts RET within reach

Australia’s renewable energy target of 23.5 per cent by 2020 remains achievable with record investment in renewables recorded for 2016, according to a report released today by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER).

Tabled in Parliament today, Tracking towards 2020: Encouraging renewable energy in Australia, is the 2016 calendar year report on the administration of the scheme and annual statement on progress towards the large-scale 2020 target of 33000GWh.

Executive general manager Mark Williamson launched the report in Melbourne today. He said the report shows there is significant momentum building in the large-scale industry after an unprecedented number of new projects were announced in 2016.

“The generation capacity of these new projects announced increased five-fold in 2016 compared to 2015 to more than 2000MW,” Mr Williamson said.

“The momentum we saw in the second half of 2016 has continued into 2017.

“Already we have one-third of the total build required for 2017 achieved in the first three months of the year with a further 1074.5MW firmly announced by March 22 this year.

“This demonstrates that Australia is now in a strong position to meet the 2020 Renewable Energy Target.”

Speaking at the Solar 2017 conference, Mr Williamson highlighted that solar had played a large part in this exciting level of investment.

“Solar projects made up a higher than anticipated proportion of new projects,” he said.

Solar projects have faster construction times and the lag between final investment decisions and commissioning is shorter.

This means generation begins more quickly and certificates, which drive the Renewable Energy Target, can be made available to the market sooner.

Small-scale solar also had a big year, with more than 2.6 million Australian homes installing small-scale systems.

“The average size of solar panel systems installed in 2016 has increased 12 per cent,” Mr Williamson said.

“There is still more capacity in the small-scale market. I think the industry is doing a great job to be innovative and keep pace with technology changes, but more can be done. It’s just about thinking outside of traditional business models.”

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said Australia’s renewable energy target of 23.5 per cent by 2020 is within reach.

“This massive ramp-up in investment has seen Australia become a top 10 destination in the world for renewable energy projects ahead of other resource-rich economies like Norway and Canada,” he said.