There has been much talk from the ranks of the Abbott government about how much the RET and other renewable energy subsidies are costing Australia and its people. But what about the cost of scrapping the RET?
Ever since it became clear that the Abbott’s ultra-conservative Coalition would win government and revisit Australia’s bipartisan renewable energy target of 41,000GWh, the industry has been at a standstill for large-scale developers.
Households have continued to invest in rooftop solar, at a rate of more than 15,000 per month, even after the removal of feed-in tariffs and the erection of other obstacles, such as refused connections and higher network charges.
But “big wind” and “big solar” have hit a wall, because they rely on financing from banks and off-take agreements with utilities. Without clarity over the future of the target, and with the incumbent coal generators exerting huge pressure on the Abbott government to bring the program to a halt, or to scale it back by more than half, financing and off-takes have been impossible to secure.
That has been successful. Apart from a handful of projects with direct funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, a pipeline of more than $20 billion of projects has remained moribund.
This extends from projects such as the $1.5 billion Ceres wind project in South Australia, a 400MW solar project in Kilcoy, a network of solar farms spread across key regional centres in western NSW, and countless smaller, community-scale projects that are being considered across the country.
RenewEconomy, with the help of the Clean Energy Council and its own contacts in the industry, has put together the following list of projects at risk from the government’s campaign against renewables.
We are not saying that all of these projects would have gone ahead, because they would have had to compete with each other on costs and for funds.
What we can say, with depressing certainty, is that few will see the light of day in the next five years unless the Abbott government suddenly reverses its bent against wind energy and large scale solar projects.
Senvion, the developer of the $1.5 billion Ceres project, has warned that it will abandon Australia if the RET is badly cut. It is not alone.
US Recurrent Energy has already put its $2.5 billion portfolio on hold and left the country, First Solar, which is building two major solar plants in NSW, has warned that it may follow. So too has Spanish developer FRV, the builder of the only complete solar plant in the eastern seaboard, and the 57MW plant at Moree now under construction.
Other companies to warn that they will quit Australia include China’s wind energy giant Goldwind, and the UK’s Renewable Energy Systems. Numerous others, such as Yingli and Trina have warned that Australia will become a laggard and will find it hard to compete for investment.
Australian companies such as Infigen Energy and Pacific Hydro have already put Australian paroject on hold. Numerous other smaller project developers are being forced to do the same thing.
The Clean Energy Council estimates there are 34 wind farms alone that have been approved around the country including 10 in NSW and 13 in Victoria that are unlikely to be built if the target is cut.
South Australi’s Premier Jay Wetherill says $4.5 billion of invstment is stalled as a result of the RET stand-off. A report from the WA Renewable Energy Alliance, said changes to the RET threaten more than 700MW of large-scale wind and solar projects – $1 billion- worth of clean energy projects – and around 7000 of jobs in that state alone.
We’ve done some poking around, and the result, below, is a list of the slated – approved and nominally under construction – renewable energy projects that might not go ahead when the RET is finally neutered. We suspect there are a lot more than we have listed here.
French Group Neoen proposes 115MW of large scale solar at 5 regional centres in western NSW.
Western NSW councils have called for $200 million of funding to build a range of small to medium-sized solar plants.
Various other councils, including Lismore, are looking a smaller solar projects which may not go ahead without RET support.
400MW Kilcoy solar project north of Brisbane.
80MW RE Oakey solar project in Darling Downs (Recurrrent Energy).
15MW solar project by Sunshine Coast Council
The state still officially has a 5% solar target, but since election of Coalition state government, little has been heard of it since.
50MW Mungari solar PV plant, near Kalgoorlie. (Investec/Megawatt Capital/Neoen).
30MW Chapman solar PV plant, mid west region near Geraldton. (Investec/Megawatt Capital/Neoen).
Other projects identified by WA renewable energy alliance:
30MW solar PV, Perth region
20MW solar project, mid west region
2 x 10MW solar PV, mid west region
Expansion of 10MW Greenough River Solar Plant near Geraldton. (First Solar)
NEXT STAGE WA SOLAR PROJECTS (out to 2020):
200MW+ solar PV
20MW solar thermal – mid west region
WIND – APPROVED
Wind Prospect CWP Sapphire (Continental Wind Partners) – 325.95MW
AGL and Macquarie: Silverton (Stage 1) – 296.1MW
Epuron: White Rock Wind Farm – 238MW
RATCH Australia Corporation: Collector – 184.25MW
Infigen Energy: Capital 2 Wind Farm – 102.5MW
Pamada Scone (Kyoto Energy Park) – 102MW
Infigen Energy: Bodangora – 99MW
OneWind Australia: Glen Innes – 52.5MW
Epuron: Conroy’s Gap – 30MW
Wind Corporation Australia: Black Springs – 18.9MW
Infigen Energy: Forsayth – 70MW
Senvion Australia: Ceres Project (Ardrossan) – 597MW
Infigen Energy: Woakwine Stage 1 – 372MW
Investec Bank: Hornsdale – 315MW
OneWind Australia: Lincoln Gap – 177MW
Pacific Hydro: Keyneton – 105MW
International PowerWillogoleche – 78MW
Energy Australia: Waterloo Stage 2 – 18MW
OneWind Australia: Cattle Hill – 240MW
Origin Energy: Stockyard Hill – 392.5MW
WestWind Energy: Moorabool – 321MW
Union Fenosa, Berrybank – 198MW
Infigen Energy: Cherry Tree – 48MW
Pacific Hydro: Yaloak South – 29.4MW
International Power: Winchelsea – 28MW
VIC Windlab Developments: Coonooer Bridge – 15MW
Future Energy: Chepstowe – 6MW
Wind Prospect: Dandaragan – 513.4MW
Infigen Energy, RPV: Walkaway 3 – 298.2MW
Moonies Hill Energy: Flat Rocks – 148MW
Stanwell Corporation: Badgingara – 130MW
Infigen Energy, RPV: Walkaway 2 – 92.4MW
Griffin Energy – 70MW
WIND NOMINALLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Union Fenosa: Crookwell 2 – 92MW
RES: Ararat – 247.5MW
Acciona Energy: Mt Gellibrand – 189MW
Union Fenosa: Ryan Corner – 134MW
WestWind Energy: Lal Lal – 128MW
Mitsui & Co: Bald Hills (1 and 2) – 106.6MW
Pacific Hydro: Crowlands – 84.05MW
Acciona Energy: Mortlake South – 76.5MW
Union Fenosa: Hawkesdale – 62MW
Pacific Hydro: Portland Stage 4 – 47.15MW
Wind Farm Developments: Woolsthorpe – 40MW
TrustPower Australia: Salt Creek (Woorndoo) – 31.5MW
Total Capacity at Risk: 6879.4MW
Construction work force 6600 one year contracts
Ongoing work force 690 local jobs directly at the wind farm