Renewable energy and storage projects adding up to more than $20 billion of investment have now been committed across the country, according to new figures released by the Clean Energy Council.
The CEC says there are currently 14.6 gigawatts of new renewable energy projects under construction. Making conservative adjustments for average capacity factor of wind and solar production, this is equivalent to more than four times the energy output of the Liddell Power Station.
Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said 2018 was unquestionably a record year for the industry. More than two million homes now have solar panels, and over 80 wind and solar farms are now being constructed across the country, he said.
“The total value of the projects underway is double where we were at the end of last year. The wind and solar projects completed in 2018 add up to $6b, taking the total of projects completed or underway this year to more than $26 billion,” Mr Thornton said.
“The skills and experience our industry has developed this decade will allow new projects to be built more efficiently than ever before, helping to push down projects costs and power prices. Along with the incentives provided by the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and state policies, wind, solar and storage has created an extraordinary opportunity for thousands of people in regional parts of the country.
“More than 80 projects are being built which will deliver over $20b of investment and 13,000 direct jobs. It really is an amazing time for this industry,” he said.
The biggest winners from the $20 billion worth of new renewable energy projects are:
- Queensland: $6.9b of investment, more than 4500 direct jobs and 5640 megawatts (MW) of new capacity
- Victoria: $5.2b of investment, more than 3800 direct jobs and 3400 MW
- New South Wales: $4.3b of investment, more than 2100 direct jobs and 3500 MW
Despite the record result, 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 a national bipartisan energy and climate policy. If anything we are further away than when we started,” said Thornton.
“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.”