New figures confirm that Australia’s renewable energy industry is on track to meet the Renewable Energy Target (RET), showing the effectiveness of long-term and stable policy to attract major investors for the benefit of the national economy.

Clean Energy Council CEO Kane Thornton said that analysis for the Federal Government in 2017 showed the average household power bill would be cut by hundreds of dollars a year by the end of the decade as a result of the new projects built under the RET.

“The industry is on a high after a record year for both large-scale renewable energy and rooftop solar power. Large-scale renewable energy projects adding up to more than $10 billion in private investment were either under construction or committed during 2017. And another $2 billion was invested in rooftop solar,” Thornton said.

“We are now looking forward to several really big years of job creation and economic activity as the industry builds out the rest of the RET. The good news is that these wind, solar and bioenergy projects entering the system will help to reduce the power bills of mums and dads, big power users and everyone in between.

“Renewable energy is now the lowest cost type of new power generation it’s possible to build, but it is competing against old and increasingly unreliable coal-fired power stations that were built by taxpayers many decades ago. This is why the RET has been so important,” he said.

The Federal Government announced today that enough projects were either under construction or sufficiently advanced in the development process that the RET would be met by 2020. Clean Energy Council analysis shows about 5,500 jobs are set to be created from more than 50 wind and solar projects, adding up to 5,200MW of new generating capacity and over $10 billion of investment.

Thornton said it was important to recognise the contribution of a variety of state and territory governments, which helped to provide additional incentives for new renewable energy when the industry was experiencing significant uncertainty after an extended review of the RET.

“This achievement reminds us of the importance of long-term policy with bipartisan political support. While the RET has delivered on its promise, there remains significant policy uncertainty beyond 2020,” he said.

“We urge the Federal Government and all political stakeholders to work quickly and constructively to establish policy and regulatory settings that will provide continued investment confidence for the coming decades.”

Milestone reached

Following a record level of investment in renewable energy in 2017, Clean Energy Regulator chair David Parker today said we’ve reached a major milestone ahead of schedule.

“While announcements started slowly in 2016, the momentum we saw in the later part of that year continued throughout 2017 and has now reached a level that we believe will be sufficient to meet the 2020 target,” Parker said.

Of the 6,532MW of new large-scale generation firmly announced since 2016, more than 4,900MW is fully financed, with most already under construction or operating, while the rest is expected to begin construction early this year. A further 1,600MW of projects have a power purchase agreement in place which we expect will progress to financial close. Queensland will see the bulk of this new construction, followed by Victoria and NSW.

“In 2017, more than 1,000MW of renewable projects were completed and began generation, the biggest year ever for new build coming online,” Parker said.

“We expect 2018 and 2019 to be even bigger, with each year having more than double the new build completed compared to 2017.”

Of the firmly announced projects since 2016, solar makes up 46% of the total new capacity.

“Solar is an important emerging player in the energy mix, particularly on long summer days. Over the next few years as more of these projects become operational they will make an increasing contribution to meeting peak electricity demand,” Parker said.