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Investment In Australian Renewable Energy Industry Plummets 90%

Investment in the Australian renewable energy industry has plummeted 90% over the 12 months since 31 March, “stifled by more than 13 months of policy uncertainty,” says Bloomberg New Energy Finance in a new analysis.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), investment has dropped a phenomenal 90% “as investors and lenders begin to exit the Australian market.” Australia’s news media is regularly reminded that companies are unhappy with the current political climate, as each month a new batch of companies decide it’s time to look elsewhere. Earlier this week Bloomberg Business pointed to companies such as Vestas Wind Systems and Acciona SA as companies “increasingly turn[ing] to rival markets for growth.”

“We’re going backward if you compare us to quite a wide range of countries,” Andrew Thomson, managing director of Acciona Energy in Australia, said by phone to Bloomberg. “For companies operating in Australia, many would be saying, it’s getting extremely difficult here, why don’t we take a look at the broader region, Southeast Asia for example.”

In fact, just this month the world’s biggest renewable energy financier quit Australia’s renewable energy market because of political uncertainty surrounding the country’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). According to Giles Parkinson of RenewEconomy, “The decision by Banco Santander to sell its 90 per cent stake in the 106.8MW Taralga wind farm, in which it invested in 2012 soon after its arrival in Australia, is testimony to the changing fortunes of the Australian renewable energy sector, which has effectively ground to a halt in the 18 months since the election of the Abbott government.”

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s analysis finds that new investment in the Australian large-scale renewable energy industry dropped 90% in 12 months to 31 March, 2015, to just AUD$206.9 million, or USD$192 million. In fact, only one large-scale renewable energy project received financing in the first quarter of 2015, valued at AUD$6.6 million, which is down from the AUD$46 million in Q1’14.


Thankfully, uptake of rooftop PV by households and businesses hasn’t been as affected as might have been expected, with approximately 195 MW of rooftop PV capacity in the sub-100kW category being installed in Q1’15, which is actually a 7% increase on Q1’14.

But news of investment collapse comes right on the heels of news from the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier this week that the Australian renewable energy industry lost 2,300 jobs over the past two years. According to the new figures released Monday, renewable energy industry jobs stood at 12,590 in 2013-14, up from the employment level of 8,750 recorded in 2009-10. However, importantly, the figures for 2013-14 are down 15%, or 2,300, from the peak of 14,890 recorded in 2011-12.


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