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Wind farm fears

Tuesday, 14th July, 2015

By Andrew Robertson

A federal government order effectively preventing further public funding of wind farms is akin to Australia throwing “another weight in its saddle bag”, according to the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said yesterday the government’s directive to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) that it instead focus on new technologies sent a worrying message to the world.

“The CEFC’s primary focus has always been on financing exciting new technologies rather than more commercial renewable energy such as wind,” Mr Thornton said in a statement.

“But reports of an overt directive preventing CEFC from investing in wind and rooftop solar power reinforces a growing perception that renewable energy investors are not welcome in Australia.”

Energy giant AGL, which was forced to mothball its Silverton Wind Farm project because of uncertainty surrounding the new Renewable Energy Target (RET), declined to speak about the impact the directive would have on its wind farm project.

“Will not be commenting on this issue today,” a spokeswoman told the BDT.

While Environment Minister Greg Hunt said yesterday that large-scale solar would benefit from the directive, Mr Thornton said it came at a time when the renewable energy industry was looking for some stability.

“The timing of this is unfortunate, as it comes after an 18-month period during which investment in large-scale renewable energy plunged 90 per cent due to the government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET),” he said.

“While bipartisan support has been restored to the RET and this remains crucial, the industry is seeking some stability that will enable financiers to invest with confidence.

“In the midst of a global race to attract investment and jobs in renewable energy, Australia has just thrown another weight in its own saddle bag.”

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