It’s been no surprise to regular readers of CleanTechnica that not only am I Australian, but that I’m relatively unhappy with the current government’s predilection towards abolishing my country’s Renewable Energy Target.
Thankfully, I’m not the only one, and Australia’s Clean Energy Council has released a briefing paper outlining the impact of cutting the Renewable Energy Target (RET) on state jobs and investment.
To outline the situation, for those who have avoided my previous ranting and raving, the RET review panel has presented a recommendation to the Australian Government to close the Large-scale RET to new entrants and ‘grandfather’ existing investments. According to the Clean Energy Council (CEC), “were this scenario to be adopted by the government, it would lead to widespread job losses across the sector, and have a significant impact on future investment across all states.”
Let’s be very clear here — anything that has repercussions with the word “widespread” attached to it is bad. It invariably refers to horrible zombie infestations (ie, widespread panic, widespread panic, widespread zombieism), and I think the same tenor can be taken when we consider the “widespread job losses” to Australia’s renewable energy industry.
The Australian renewable energy industry currently employs 21,000 people, and is expected to add a further 18,400 jobs by 2020. The Large-scale RET has generated more than $10 billion in investments to date, and is expected to drive an additional $15 billion by 2020. To think of putting either of these at risk by meddling with the RET speaks of the sheer absurdity of the current Liberal Government’s current politics, and their underlying lack of concern for the environment when paired against cow-towing to big business.
Much of the investment currently being funneled into renewable energy projects are in regional and rural areas of Australia, across all the states of the country. According to CEC, if the RET were closed to new entrants the potential investment across all the states would fall by 75%. Specifically, the state of New South Wales would lose $4.24 billion in investment, Victoria would lose $2.83 billion, and Queensland would lose $2.03 billion.
In terms of jobs, as CEC notes in their briefing paper, “any cut to the RET would risk the livelihoods of the 21,000 Australians employed in the renewable energy industry.”
Many of those 21,000 are RE-trained individuals, working in their second or third career. In addition to the inherent rural and regional nature of small- and large-scale renewable energy projects, these renewable energy employees would not only lose their jobs, but they would find it doubly difficult to find work again.
A lot has already been said about Australia’s Renewable Energy Target politics, that saying anything further would simply be needless repetition. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Australia’s entire energy industry is at risk, not to mention its environmental standing and politics, if the current Australian Government is given free reign to meddle with necessary environmental regulations. Hopefully statistics like those shown above will go a long way to bringing a semblance of sanity back to Parliament.