Long term policy concerns for renewables

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The renewable energy industry is confident in short-term investments but concerned about policy uncertainty in the future, according to the Clean Energy Council’s Chief Executive, Kane Thornton.

While launching the Australian Clean Energy Summit (ACES) in Sydney, Mr Thornton said the event was being held at a time when the fate of the proposed National Energy Guarantee hangs in the balance, and during a year of record activity and economic investment in renewables and energy storage.

“The Clean Energy Outlook survey we are releasing shows cautious optimism from the executives who responded. The industry has been in a record growth phase, but those who have been around for a while have not forgotten the lean years in the middle of the decade caused by chronic political and policy uncertainty,” Mr Thornton said.

“Renewable energy like wind and solar is now the lowest-cost generation it is possible to build, but if we get the policy and regulatory settings wrong it will hurt economic activity across the sector.”

The inaugural Clean Energy Outlook includes responses from 100 CEOs and senior executives across the renewable energy and storage industries. Ranked out of ten, the group’s level of confidence to make investments over the next three years averaged 6.9.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of those surveyed were planning to hire more staff in the next 12 months, while only four per cent expected their number of staff to drop during this period. The two biggest common issues affecting businesses were policy uncertainty and regulatory change.

“This year’s Australian Clean Energy Summit comes after 18 months of extraordinary economic opportunities for the industry and regional parts of the country because of the Renewable Energy Target (RET). It has attracted a capacity crowd of 1000 senior executives and policymakers to Sydney for the event,” Mr Thornton said.

“We are confident this prosperity will continue over the next couple of years, but it’s essential that we can return secure bipartisan support to ensure the transition to clean energy continues at the lowest possible cost to consumers.

“Over the next few days at the ICC in Sydney, we will hear from a huge range of speakers about many different parts of the energy story – generation, transmission, system stability, finance, international trends, innovation and so much more. It’s a fantastic time to be involved with this industry.”

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