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Lack of RET stunting Australia investment

Australia’s COAG Energy Council – made up of Australia’s federal and state-level energy ministers – is meeting for the first time in over a year on 22 November.

The CEC, the country’s leading renewable energy lobby group, has issued a list of recommendations it wants the council to adopt in order to get Australia’s clean energy transition back on track.

According to the CEC, in 2019 an average of 500MW of new renewable energy capacity received financial backing in each quarter. This is down from an average of 1.6GW per quarter in 2018.

On top of grid connection challenges and underinvestment in the transmission system, CEC claims the policy vacuum beyond the expiring renewable energy target (RET) is affecting investor confidence.

“New large-scale generation is urgently needed to keep power prices down and ensure the ongoing stability of our energy system,” said CEC chief executive Kane Thornton.

“A sustained slowdown in the level of new investment will have a significant impact on Australia’s energy prices and reliability, at a time when existing coal-fired generation is becoming less reliable and is increasingly exiting the system.”

The CEC has written to each of the energy ministers calling on them to back new programmes to reverse the investment decline.

The recommendations include to simplify grid connections and transmission planning, develop ancilliary services markets to support the investment in new storage projects, and agree a new long-term policy plan to enhance investor confidence beyond 2020.

“This reduction in new investment is the result of increased risk and barriers relating to challenging grid connection processes, underinvestment in electricity transmission, lack of long-term energy policy and an energy market no longer fit-for-purpose,” Thornton added.

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