CEC: Slow-down in clean energy investment needs urgent COAG action

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The Clean Energy Council (CEC) says addressing the dramatic decrease in investment in large-scale renewable energy should be the highest priority for COAG Energy Council when it meets this Friday for the first time in almost a year.

The CEC says new clean energy investment has slowed significantly in 2019, with average quarterly investment in new generation capacity this year just over 500 MW per quarter compared to over 1600 MW per quarter in 2018. This reflects a reduction of over 60 per cent from 2018 levels.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said a prolonged decline in new investment presented a major risk to Australia.

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“New large-scale generation is urgently needed to keep power prices down and ensure the ongoing stability of our energy system. A sustained slow-down in the level of new investment will have a significant impact on Australia’s energy prices and reliability, at a time when existing coal fired generation is becoming less reliable and is increasingly exiting the system,” he said.

“This reduction in new investment is the result of increased risk and barriers relating to challenging grid connection processes, underinvestment in electricity transmission, lack of long-term energy policy and an energy market no longer fit-for-purpose.

“COAG Energy Council must recognise the importance of new investment in delivering an affordable, reliable and clean energy system and take immediate action to reduce the growing risks and barriers to new investment.”  

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The CEC has written to every energy minister ahead of this week’s COAG Energy Council meeting with the following recommendations:

  • The COAG Energy Council should not endorse the AEMC’s approach to progressing its proposed access model (COGATI). Instead, it should task the AEMC to undertake quantitative analysis and further detailed design development to demonstrate the proposal delivers a net market benefit and ensure its practical implications are well understood and tested.
  • Task the AEMC and AEMO with pursuing reforms of the grid connection process and the MLF regime as a priority.
  • The COAG Energy Council should reaffirm its commitment to effectively actioning AEMO’s Integrated System Plan.
  • Task AEMO and the AEMC to develop clear ancillary services markets that recognise and monetise the value of services such as inertia, fast frequency response and voltage support.
  • Support long-term energy policy certainty, through a combination of harmonisation of state targets and schemes, refinement to existing policy measures (such as the Emissions Reduction Fund) to support new clean energy investment or progress new coordinated policy measures such as the National Energy Guarantee.
  • The COAG Energy Council should endorse the National Hydrogen Strategy.

The Clean Energy Council’s full briefing paper is available on its website.