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Australia falls behind Honduras, Myanmar in clean energy investment

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Australian investment in clean energy plunged in 2014 – falling below that of small third world economies such as Honduras and Myanmar – underlying the catastrophic impact of the Abbott government’s war on renewable energy.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in releasing final estimates for the 2014 calendar year, said Australia had become “uninvestable” for large-scale projects – just as the scale and breadth of such projects increased dramatically around the world.

In fact, it wasn’t for the investment in rooftop solar by individual households and businesses, investment in clean energy in Australia would have come to a virtual standstill because of the uncertainty around the renewable energy target.

Data released by BNEF for calendar 2014 shows that total investment in clean energy in Australia fell to its lowest level since 2009.

The biggest fall has been in large-scale investment, which slumped 88 per cent during the year to its lowest levels since 2002 as a result of the Abbott government attempts to cut, or even repeal, the RET.

Just $240 million was invested as Australia slipped from 11th to 39th spot in large-scale renewable investment, and now ranks behind the likes of Honduras (33rd), Costa Rica (27th) and Myanmar (24th).

“The severe downturn in large-scale investment has been caused by the federal government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target, which has made the sector practically uninvestable,” BNEF said.

“Its controversial review panel recommended scrapping the target or radically diminishing it in August 2014, but the government is yet to announce a position that can gain approval of the parliament and restore confidence to the sector.”

The impasse over the RET remains, with the Coalition government showing no interest in negotiating an outcome that does not result in a massive cut in the 2020 target. It knows that as long as the issue is not resolved, investment in clean energy will remain at a standstill.

The one bright spot in Australia’s clean energy landscape is  rooftop solar, with more than $2.3 billion invested by households and businesses over the year. A further $2 billion may have been invested in storage, smart meters, R&D and other technologies, but this figure is likely to be revised downwards.

BNEF notes that other resource intensive economies like Canada (USD5.3 billion), Brazil ($US4.7 billion) and South Africa ($US4.5 billion) have each invested over 20 times as much in large-scale clean energy as Australia has this year.
Australia also compares poorly to a host of its major trading partners including China ($US64 billion);   the United States ($US12.9 billion), the United Kingdom ($US10.7 billion), Japan ($US5.3 billion), India ($US4.5 billion) and Indonesia ($USU1.8 billion).
Overall, global investment in clean energy investment rebounded strongly in 2014, boosted by demand for large-scale and rooftop solar, and by the financing of a record $19.4bn of offshore wind projects.
According to BNEF, global investment in clean energy was $US310 billion last year, a rise of 16 per cent in 2013 and five times the figure of a decade earlier. Solar accounted for half that investment with $US150 billion), followed by wind energy ($US100 billion) and energy smart technologies – including storage – ($37 billion).
“Healthy investment in clean energy may surprise some commentators, who have been predicting trouble for renewables as a result of the oil price collapse since last summer,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for BNEF.
“Our answer is that 2014 was too early to see any noticeable effect on investment, and anyway the impact of cheaper crude will be felt much more in road transport than in electricity generation.”

  

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  • Alan Baird

    Ah yes, the too-clever-by-half country. Getting less more smelly but less offensive. Odd.

  • john

    This is grand news for our forward thinking decision makers.
    Perhaps that should be reworded to non-decision makers.
    Very effective indeed has been the message to industry get out of Renewable Energy, we do not wish to see this industry at all down here in a country that has so much to offer in this area.
    As to consumers well “we” have a plan jack up the supply agreement price and lower the KwH cost to try to render the deal useless this will just mean that those who can will go off grid sooner this is truly not a good outcome for those who can not do this.

  • The rooftop solar energy is a good idea i think !