Renewable energy booming but could soon turn to bust, analysts warn

The data, known as the Renewable Energy Index, was produced by analysts Green Energy Markets and funded by advocacy group GetUp!.

It shows renewables comprised 17.2 per cent of electricity generated in Australia’s east and west coast main grids last financial year, up from 7 per cent a decade ago.

Green Energy Markets director of analysis and advisory, Tristan Edis, said the industry had recovered from an “investment drought” under former prime minister Tony Abbott, whose government cut the renewable energy target.

Mr Edis said investors had recovered confidence under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but the boom “could soon turn to bust” unless the government adopts a clean energy target, which would provide investment certainty beyond 2020, when the renewable energy target peaks.

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Australia produced enough renewable energy to power 70 per cent of households last financial year, new data shows.

Photo: Jessica Shapiro

The index showed at the end of June this year, 46 large-scale renewable energy projects were being built. They are expected to create enough construction jobs to employ 8868 people fulltime for a year.

Almost 150,000 small-scale rooftop solar systems were installed during the year to June, which will deliver about $1.6 billion in power bill savings over the next decade, or almost $10,000 per system.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said Australia’s energy market was in transition “as we move to a lower-emissions future”.

“It is not about stopping the transition or renewables versus fossil fuels, it’s about managing the transition to ensure affordable and reliable energy supply,” he said.

Mr Frydenberg cited Clean Energy Council figures showing there was a record $8 billion of renewable investment underway, delivering more than 4000MW of new renewable generation capacity.

He has previously said the clean energy target, if implemented, would not come into effect until 2020 so there was “no rush” for the government to make a decision.

GetUp! environmental justice campaign director Miriam Lyons said the new data showed the renewable energy industry was now a “major player”.

“It reveals a dramatic shift in public sentiment towards green energy … [and that] public support for renewables has been resilient in the face of so many political attacks,” she said.

The index, to be updated monthly, will track the renewable energy Australia produces, jobs created, pollution reduced and savings on power bills from rooftop solar.

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