Industry welcomes government commitment to Renewable Energy Target

Tuesday, 07 February, 2017

The renewable energy industry has welcomed comments from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull restating the federal government’s commitment to the national Renewable Energy Target (RET), following calls by some backbenchers to scrap the policy.

Clean Energy Council (CEC) Chief Executive Kane Thornton said it was just 18 months ago that a bipartisan deal on the RET was negotiated, following a protracted review.

“The RET deal negotiated between the major parties brought to a close an ugly period of policy instability under Prime Minister Tony Abbott which led to job losses, damaged business confidence and threatened Australia’s reputation as a safe place to invest,” Thornton said.

“Major domestic and global investors are now returning to the sector, with international businesses helping to pump much-needed investment and employment into the Australian economy. The industry is now looking ahead to a busy year, with many projects poised to create jobs in regional parts of the country.”

Thornton said comments by the Prime Minister and continued assurances from Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will reassure both the Australian public and major renewable energy investors.

“Renewable energy is more popular among voters than any politician right now. With some politicians pushing a supposed shift towards populism, it’s hard to see how trashing renewable energy will be some kind of Holy Grail that will deliver increased political longevity,” he said.

Analysis commissioned during the review of the RET under the Abbott government concluded that reducing the RET would actually increase power prices. This is because the policy is helping to increase competition and put a lid on power prices. 

“The one material change in the renewables debate since then is that the price of renewable energy has continued to fall, making it now the lowest-cost type of new electricity generation in Australia. With the majority of our power stations past their operating life, new investment will be needed if we want to keep the lights on.

“It is not surprising that state governments are competing to attract their share of new investment and providing policy support beyond 2020, when the federal government’s current target peaks.

“Today’s comments from the Prime Minister should help to allow a more sensible discussion about how to manage the transition of Australia’s sector to a smarter, cleaner energy future,” Thornton said.

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