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Australian renewables investment bucks global trend to grow 49% in 2016

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Rebounding large scale solar and wind investment, coupled with a stable rooftop PV sector, has seen Australia register almost 50 per cent growth in clean energy investment in 2016.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) figures released this month reveal that total clean energy investment reached $4.29 billion in 2016, up from two weak years, but still below the $5 billion-plus milestone reached between 2010 and 2013.

Large scale wind and solar project financing was the bright spot in 2016, with BNEF noting that the ACT’s reverse auction attracted US$831 million (AU$1.112 billion) in project investment, while US$1.1 billion was invested towards meeting the Large-scale Renewable Target (LRET).

bnef solar projects

The growth in large scale funding is undoubtedly positive after less than US$10 million (AU$13.4 million) in annual LRET financing registered in 2014 and 2015, in the wake of the Abbott Government’s review of the RET.

However, the BNEF analysis is unequivocal that the level of investment remains well below the US$2.9 billion (AU$3.9 billion) required annually to meet the 20% by 2020 Renewable Energy Target.

“It looks like Australia had an up year for clean energy investment with some big wind and solar financings,” BNEF’s head of solar analysis Jenny Chase told RenewEconomy. “At least US$1.35 billion (AU$1.81 billion) of wind financings [took place] and US$337 million (AU$451 million) of solar.”

 


bnef wind projects

Distributed solar stabilizes

Australia’s rooftop PV segment saw US$1.2 billion (AU$1.61 billion) invested in 2016. While this is down from peaks earlier in the decade, the decline has been largely driven by the falling cost of solar modules and inverters and the overall level represents a “steady state” of investment, according to the BNEF analysis.

In fact, one of the key findings of BNEF’s global analysis is that while clean energy investment may be down globally in 2016, falling component and system costs in solar PV has been a major driver. In Australia, for instance, the amount of installed capacity actually rose 1.4 per cent to 725MW.

Investment in distributed solar places Australia sixth globally for small scale PV in 2016, behind Germany (fifth with US$1.4 billion) and Japan (second, US$8.54 billion).

On the large scale front Australia ranks less highly, coming in at 11th place, behind Belgium (eight with US$2.74 billion), Denmark (ninth with US$2.35 billion), and Norway (tenth with US$2.08 billion).

Australia’s overall clean energy investment puts it in ninth place globally, ahead of Norway (eleventh with US$2.73 billion), Canada (thirteenth with US$2.4 billion) and South Africa (30th with US$910 million), but behind Brazil (seventh with US$6.84 billion).  

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  • trackdaze

    Its easy to grow when you start from so low.

    So we have small scale solar adding (or subtracting) a hazelwood sized amount of energy every two years? :

    Expect to see commercial and business installations to take off with prices now at a point of competition with commercial rates typically <60% of retail.

  • George Darroch

    Engie have just announced they’re looking for projects. 2017 could be a good year.

    • trackdaze

      Too bad they didn’t do this in 2015-2016 in the lead up to hazelwood closure.

  • DevMac

    Quoting: “On the large scale front Australia ranks less highly, coming in at 11th place, behind Belgium (eight with US$2.74 billion), Denmark (ninth with US$2.35 billion), and Norway (tenth with US$2.08 billion).”

    So Australia, with our plentiful sun and otherwise unusable land, comes in behind countries such as Belgium, Denmark, and Norway (not exactly countries known for their rates of skin cancer) in terms of large scale solar developments. And yet our governments still blame the renewable energy industry for less-than-satisfactory energy security.

    Greater investment in one of Australia’s best natural resource would provide greater “energy security”. The failure appears to be the Abbott Government’s hosing down of any confidence the industry had, which is a situation we’re still recovering from, and the recovery isn’t exactly enthusiastic either – it’s more global and state-based momentum that we’re seeing, the federal government is only slightly better than under Abbott.

    Also, wouldn’t increased investment also create jobs? Why is the federal government so cagey regarding this? F***ing just do it!

    P.S. Small scale investment ranking higher than large scale means “the people” are driving more change than their elected representatives. This points towards the elected representatives being out-of-touch with the will of the people to a certain degree.

    • George Darroch

      Norway is in darkness half the year!

      • Calamity_Jean

        I take a dim view of that.

  • Ross Barnard

    Jonatah, Most grateful if you could clarify.

    Your opening paragraph says:”Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) figures released this month reveal
    that total clean energy investment reached $4.29 billion in 2016″. Then , later in the article you say:”However, the BNEF analysis is unequivocal that the level of investment
    remains well below the US$2.9 billion (AU$3.9 billion) required annually
    to meet the 20% by 2020 Renewable Energy Target”. These two statements do not seem to agree. is this a typograhical error ? Thankyou.