The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has released new figures which indicate that investments in renewable energy and storage projects have topped $20 billion.
According to the CEC, Australia’s renewable energy sector is experiencing unprecedented activity across the country, with the nation currently holding 14.6 gigawatts of new renewable energy projects under construction.
CEC Executive Kane Thornton said 2018 was unquestionably a record year for the industry.
“More than 2 million homes now have solar panels and over 80 wind and solar farms are now under construction or about to start,” Mr Thornton explained.
“The total value of the projects underway is double where we were at the end of last year. Plus, the wind and solar projects completed in 2018 add up to $6 billion, taking the total of projects completed or underway this year to more than $26 billion,” he added.
Mr Thornton further commented that the skills and experience that the renewable energy industry has developed this decade allow new projects to be built more efficiently than ever before, helping to push down project costs and power prices.
“Along with the incentives provided by the Renewable Energy Target and state policies, wind, solar and storage have created an extraordinary opportunity for thousands of people in regional parts of the country,” he said.
At present, Australia holds 83 clean energy projects which are either in the process of construction or ready to start construction activities (based on projects which have reached financial close and are not yet commissioned). These projects are expected to deliver over $20 billion in investment, 14,678 MW of new renewable energy capacity and create 13,514 direct jobs.
The biggest winners from the $20b worth of new renewable energy projects include:
- Queensland: $6.9b of investment, with more than 4,500 direct jobs and 5,640 megawatts (MW) of new capacity
- Victoria: $5.2b of investment, with more than 3,800 direct jobs and 3,400 MW
- New South Wales: $4.3b of investment, with more than 2100 direct jobs and 3500 MW
Despite this, Mr Thornton said the billion-dollar economic boom from renewable energy in regional Australia could come to an end if the energy policy debate is left to languish unresolved.
“While new investment no longer requires subsidy, it does require long-term energy policy certainty. As the year closes, we are no closer to national, bipartisan energy and climate policy. If anything, we are further away than when we started.”
“States and territories have stepped in to fill the void with their own initiatives to encourage jobs and investment in new clean energy. But there remains a clear vacuum of federal energy policy in Australia,” Mr Thornton concluded.