Australia – end the investor uncertainty

Senvion, a German-based company that has invested more than $2.5 billion in Australia across 18 wind farms with another $1.5 billion worth of projects in the pipeline, says the sector will be ruined if the Australian Government shuts the door on new projects.

Perplexed by the fifth review of the Renewable Energy Target in a decade, Senvion’s chief executive, Andreas Nauen, said the constant reviews had stalled investment: “If the Government adopts this recommendation, the renewable energy industry in Australia will be ruined.”

“Reducing the Renewable Energy Target will jeopardise current and future investments, and it will damage Australia’s international reputation as a safe place to invest,” Mr Nauen said.

“And once the trust has gone, once the knowledge has gone, once the jobs have gone, then restarting the clean energy industry takes a lot of effort.”

Senvion employs 160 people in Australia and wants to create a further 500 construction and 50 ongoing jobs by developing Australia’s largest wind farm in South Australia. The $1.5 billion Ceres Project is one of the top five infrastructure projects on the horizon in the South Australian economy.

With operations in over a dozen countries, Mr Nauen said investment in projects flowed to where there were effective long-term policies. Pointing to Germany where every major party has locked in to a target of 100% renewables by 2050, he said transforming a nation’s energy supply was not without its challenges.

“Change is hard – there will always be resistance – and that is where strong leadership is essential,” he said.

“Every change to the Renewable Energy Target, every pause to review the policy mechanism, damages investor confidence. If the goal posts keep moving on business, global investors move on to more stable environments,” Mr Nauen said.

Urging continuing bipartisan support for Australia’s longstanding target to have “at least 20%” renewable energy by 2020, Mr Nauen said industry needed certainty to invest in large scale infrastructure.

“What it boils down to is whether Australia wants to continue to rely on old and polluting coalfired power stations or whether it wants to embrace today’s technologies and make renewables mainstream,” he said.

South Australia has led the way in Australia, being an early adopter and beneficiary of the target. The competition from renewables has put downward pressure on wholesale prices, and greenhouse emissions from power production have been cut by over a third.

The Australian people have also shown strong support, with recent Crosby Textor polling confirming 82% people support the RET as is.

Australia – end the investor uncertainty (PDF, 21kByte)