Clean energy back on track in Australia

After more than a year in limbo, federal politicians have agreed on a lower 2020 RET which will lend a much-needed boost to clean energy businesses throughout Australia.


After more than a year in limbo, federal politicians have agreed on a lower 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET) which will lend a much-needed boost to clean energy businesses.

The previous government introduced the target of 41 terawatt (TWh) hours of annual power production when they were in office. However, following the last election, the incoming Abbott government began a review of the target and wanted to reduce this mark to as low as 26TWh.

During the review process, the Labour opposition resisted any change below 35TWh. As such, discussions lasted more than a year before both sides agreed to a 33TWh figure – double the current rate in Australia.

Impact on the renewable industry

While the review took place, clean energy investment slowed to a complete halt in some regions. Wind-power projects remained on ice with some businesses taking their investment overseas while politicians discussed matters in Canberra.

However, with the legislation now due to change in the coming weeks, project developers will be able to ramp up investment targets and establish new opportunities in this lucrative industry.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton welcomed the end of the review process and said it had been a hard year for many people.

“It has been a tough 15 months, but this development will be a huge weight off the shoulders of the 20,000 people working in the industry. It will also help to unlock Australia’s massive renewable energy potential,” he said in a May 18 media statement.

“I would like to thank the major parties for their flexibility and their willingness to work together in search of an outcome that will allow the renewable energy industry to deliver significant job and investment benefits to the Australian economy.”

One of the positives for investors and clean energy businesses is the federal government’s decision to remove the two-yearly review of the RET. This means that the industry can be confident that the goal isn’t going to change again and investments can be carried through.

Mr Thornton said it was important to remember that the council was ‘disappointed’ by the target’s reduction.

“We remain concerned about the impact of this lower target on the opportunity for emerging technologies like large-scale solar, and will continue to work with both major parties on appropriate policy measures to address this.”

While solar, wind and hydro energy continues to grow in Australia, it is obvious that more changes are likely in the future. However, at least now the industry can begin to move forward again.