Australia’s energy production company chiefs have made a renewed call for the introduction of a Clean Energy Target as proposed in the Finkel Review.
Speaking during a session of the Clean Energy Summit, AGL Energy chief executive Andy Vesey and Origin Energy chief executive Frank Calabria said the government should embrace all 50 of Alan Finkel’s recommendations to improve energy security, affordability and carbon abatement.
The Federal Government has given the nod to 49 of those recommendations, but a quiet backbench rebellion led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has scuppered plans to introduce the Clean Energy Target because of fears that it will prevent future investment in coal-fired power plants.
Mr Vesey echoed what many others have said in that policy uncertainty had stalled investment and led to higher energy prices.
“It is not a sustainable future for the business if prices stay where they are,’’ Mr Vesey said, adding that the energy industry was ready to invest and wanted the government to “get this done”.
Turning to the Finkel Report, he said: “It is not a menu, it is 50 recommendations,” he said.
Origin Chief Frank Calabria said the Finkel review provided a road-map for energy security, affordability and carbon abatement that the private sector could use to modernise the system.
“We know the future will be cleaner and smarter, on the supply side and in our customers’ homes,” Mr Calabria said.
“How customers engage with their energy supply is changing, and Origin sees a future in anticipating and empowering their needs.”
Labor ready to compromise on Clean Energy Target
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told the conference that he was willing to compromise on Labor’s preferred policy of an emissions intensity scheme and a Clean Energy Target.
“If the economic and environmental case stacks up, we’re not going to get stuck in a hair-splitting argument about the difference between an emissions intensity scheme and a Clean Energy Target,” he said.
“This isn’t about writing the government a blank cheque — bipartisan support for a bad deal isn’t going to help anyone. I want Labor involved in the policy design and the drafting process, because I believe that’s how we can guarantee the best possible outcome — for jobs and investment and for Australian families and businesses.”
The federal government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation said yesterday it had provided $2.1bn in financing to the private sector, with utility-scale wind and solar farms — the largest asset class — absorbing $400m.
The total financing — matched two-to-one by the private sector — was more than double the $837m lent and invested in 2015-16. But new CEFC chief executive Ian Learmouth said investment was still blighted by uncertainty about what would replace the Renewable Energy Target from 2020. “I can’t help but think what the investment would be like if there was more certainty,’’ Mr Learmouth said.
He said that if the CET was settled he expected to see more investment in grid-scale wind and solar farms, alongside storage capacity to manage intermittent supply.
Australian companies falling behind in renewables investments
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency said Australian companies were falling behind their international peers in use of and investment in renewable energy.
Just 49 per cent used or procured renewable energy and of those, 61 per cent used 10 per cent or less in their total energy consumption.
While most companies not using renewables had no plans to, those that were already using renewables planned to use more, the ARENA report found.
Based on this data, it was estimated corporate investment in renewable energy could total $439 million-$910m in the next 18 months, with solar PV being the priority.
ARENA said many Australian businesses appeared to be out of step with consumers, who thought big business should be using renewable energy.
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