Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton expressed concern over reports the Turnbull Government is considering stepping away from the Clean Energy Target.

“A Clean Energy Target [CET] was recommended by the Finkel Review as a crucial part of a considered roadmap towards ensuring a clean, affordable and reliable energy system for Australia, and walking away from that policy would be a clear step in the wrong direction,” Thornton said.

There are a range of technologies that can replace power stations like Liddell in NSW, Thornton said, including large-scale wind and solar combined with storage, as well as demand-side solutions such as rooftop solar and batteries.

“These solutions are here now and commercially feasible. Substantial cost reductions this decade show these solutions can be delivered to Australian power consumers while minimising costs. The 49 recommendations of the Finkel Review that are now being implemented can ensure these technologies can be utilised in a way to ensure energy security long into the future.

“Investors have made it clear that the future lies in these clean energy solutions rather than outdated and high-emissions coal-fired power which is becoming increasingly unreliable and expensive to operate.”

International and local investors are committing more than $8 billion to Australia’s clean energy sector this year, he said, because they recognised bipartisan political support for the 2020 Renewable Energy Target.

“But with no long-term policy in place beyond 2020, investors are becoming nervous and this uncertainty will stifle the advances Australia needs to create a clean, affordable energy system,” he said.

“The blame for Australia’s high-cost energy system lies in decades of policy uncertainty, not the introduction of low-emissions technology.”

Improving the affordability and reliability of Australia’s energy sector can only be secured with a bipartisan, long-term and market-based policy solution, he said. “Ad-hoc policy and regulatory change only leads to under investment in new generation.”

Australia needs policy leadership rather than endless tinkering at the edges, and the CET was a critical part of the reforms recommended by Dr Finkel, Thornton said, “and it would be foolhardy to step away from the careful recommendations of the Chief Scientist.”