Australia trashes its renewables industry

Climate Progress has picked up on the story:Australia’s clean energy development plummets below Algeria, Myanmar, Thailand, and Uruguay .

Large scale clean energy development is basically dead in Australia, thanks to the Abbott Government’s negativity and delays. Giles Parkinson says that the Government is effectively trashing the industry:

Bloomberg New Energy Finance data shows that Australia is on track to record its lowest level of asset financing for large-scale renewables since 2002 – as just $193 million was committed in the third quarter of the year. From ranking No 11, in the world in 2013, Australia has fallen behind Algeria and even Myanmar.

This graph tells the story:


Australia, which should be one of the world’s leaders in the industry, is seeing its industry collapse. The three biggest Australian investors in renewable energy are in deep trouble.

Industry Funds Management is being forced to write down the value of Pacific Hydro, the largest specialised investor in renewables in the country, by $685 million, according to the Australian Financial Review. This from a business that was to have been floated a year or so ago with a value of more than $2 billion.

Infigen Energy, the largest listed investor in renewables, has said it is facing massive writedowns, and potentially taking dramatic action to protect shareholder funds. It has brought Australian investments to a halt. So has Silex Systems, which has effectively abandoned the solar industry.

International investors have also made clear that their investment in Australia will end soon un less policy stability is restored. These include First Solar, Chinese wind turbine leader Goldwind, and numerous others. The US-based Recurrent Energy has already packed its bags, Spanish based FRV has said its $1.5 billion pipeline is at risk.

Australia’s year-to-date investment of $238 million in large-scale renewables development so far this year compares to Canada’s $3.1 billion.

The world leaders are now China and Japan.

China may add more than 14 gigawatts of solar capacity this year — almost a third of the global total, according to BNEF.

China is fast approaching its goal of installing 35 gigawatts of solar by the end of 2015.

Apparently they believe in picking winners and subsidies, as does Japan:

Japan, the world’s second-largest solar market, increased spending 17 percent to $8.6 billion in the third quarter. Japan has approved about 72,000 megawatts of clean energy projects since the country’s feed-in tariff program started in 2012, with about 96 percent being solar projects.

Meanwhile the LNP have entered into negotiations with Labor on the Renewable Energy Target, presumably having given up on PUP and the cross bench. Labor seems to favour a numerical target similar to the status quo, whereas the LNP favours an actual 20% target, which would be a reduction and disastrous for the industry. Labor seems to be prevailing. There is talk of an exemption for aluminium processing.

We’ll have to wait and see whether what comes out is too little too late, and whether the LNP plays fast and loose with yet another industry sector.

6 thoughts on “Australia trashes its renewables industry”

  1. This post should be read in conjunction with this earlier post on the advantages of conract based schemes. RET driven investment in large scale renewables driven essentially stopped as soon as Abbott starting raising doubts about his support for the RET well before the last election.
    It looks like the RET scheme may be retained at its current target in return for a complete exemption of the aluminium industry from the RET scheme. While this may sound outrageous it should be kept in mind that aluminium production will be low emission once our power supply is all renewable. (Perhaps the exclusion could be conditional on the aluminium industry being willing to cut its demand during annual peak power periods. However, I am not sure whether this is already happening nor the technical details.)
    Some will want to argue that renewable power will always be expensive. However, people like to own their own homes because an owned home becomes very cheap accommodation once the mortgage is paid off. BOOT contract schemes could allow something similar to be done for renewable power. The BOOT contract allows the builder to get a reasonable return on capital before transferring ownership to the government as a source of very low cost power.

  2. Geoff: I read somewhere that Abbott assumed that the RET was just as unpopular as the carbon tax and would be easy to roll. Problem is that the Howard government’s RET scheme has been working well for years without the sudden jumps in power prices associated with schemes that depend on putting a price on carbon.
    The masses may also be starting to realize that removing the carbon tax is not going to make the massive jumps in grid charges go away.

  3. Strange if Abbott thought the renewable energy target was unpopular, because surveys seem to consistently show that it is popular. Maybe he thought he’d convinced everyone that climate change was “crap” so they’d all forget about it.

  4. Saw this today in the Guardian, at the end of a story about Xenophon’s proposed amendments to Direct Action:

    The negotiations come as figures released by Cedex show that total emissions in the national electricity market were 1.3% higher in the month to September 2014 than they were in the month to June 2014, which was before the removal of the carbon price.

    Generation of brown coal, the most carbon-intensive type of coal, was 2.2% higher in the year to September 2014 compared to the year to June 2014, the figures showed.

    Doesn’t seem to have received much coverage. As usual, I feel such rage at this benighted government.

  5. Val: The polls keep on showing that a majority want climate action. In addition, the number of households with rooftop solar is quite high (>20% in Qld.) which suggests that people are putting their money where their mouth is. I think that the Tea party had convinced people that taxes are BAD and that the carbon tax was bad because it was a tax and besides Julia had fibbed. (The RET is not a tax because it generates no government revenue but I guess most people don’t understand that.) He had also convinced many that the big jump in power costs was due to the carbon tax.
    Abbott’s problem now is that people are going to receive very little saving due to the end of the carbon tax and Abbott’s lies are beginning to catch up with him.

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