Time for a clean energy stimulus package?

Solar panels against the cloudy sky (regional)

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) is calling on the federal and state governments to provide what it says are important initiatives to ensure the clean energy industry continues to operate.

While COVID-19 is an unprecedented global event having an enormous impact on businesses and households around Australia, and everyone is still coming to grips with what it means, what the economic impact will be and what the recovery will look like, the CEC says the clean energy industry can play an important part in the nation’s economic recovery.

“We are lobbying the federal and state and territory governments to make renewable energy and energy storage a key part of their COVID-19 response packages to both stimulate the Australian economy and protect households and businesses from high electricity costs,” the CEC said in a statement.

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The Clean Energy Council has written to governments around Australia calling on them to adopt a number of important initiatives as part of their economic recovery and stimulus packages:

  • Governments should directly fund the installation of solar on public housing and low-income rental housing. Solar will reduce the electricity bills of people who need the most support and employ a large number of electricians and tradespeople quickly.
  • Governments should roll out solar and storage backup for all critical state infrastructure, such as police facilities, fire stations and telecommunications.
  • The Clean Energy Council welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to increase the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until June 30, 2020. In addition, the Federal Government should stimulate jobs and growth with a new rebate for solar batteries for homes and businesses.
  • State and territory government should accelerate the rollout of rooftop solar and batteries for schools, childcare facilities, police stations and other government buildings.
  • Governments should accelerate and increase funding for the installation of microgrids, stand-alone power systems, community batteries and other programs for bushfire recovery and to build resilience for future summers.

The Clean Energy Council says adopting these initiatives will help to save jobs in the renewable energy industry, boost the economy and reduce energy costs for consumers.

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“In the large-scale sector, governments should accelerate projects and initiatives such as Queensland’s RE400 program and the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan to support large-scale renewable energy and energy storage projects,” the Council said.

“The economic response to COVID-19 provides a golden opportunity for governments to accelerate such plans, providing much needed stimulus to the economy while simultaneously accelerating the move to a cheaper, more reliable energy system.

“Finally, governments should prioritise strategic interconnections and upgrades to the transmission network, such as the NSW and Queensland interconnector and the many opportunities in Victoria.

“The build-out of a robust high-voltage transmission network will enable jobs and investment in regional Australia at a critical time, while paving the way for the ongoing energy transition from centralised to more distributed generation. New transmission will unlock investment and construction in new renewable generation in regional areas throughout the country.”

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