Australian investment tops $9bn in 2017

AUSTRALIA: A record total of $9 billion (A$11.8 billion) was invested in wind and solar projects in 2017, an increase of 150% year-on-year, driving the country towards its Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The Ararat wind project was completed in 2017 (pic: GE)
The Ararat wind project was completed in 2017 (pic: GE)

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A new report from the Clean Energy Council found roughly 700MW of new renewable capacity was added to the grid in 2017, with almost 5GW of further capacity either under construction or with financing arranged.

Following the record investment, Australia is set to surpass its 33TWh by 2020 RET target ahead of schedule. The target was however reduced from 41TWh in 2015.

The CEC said a stable environment following the setting of the new RET in 2015 contributed to the influx of investment.

Prior to the new target being set, the years of debate and political uncertainty in the country about the level of renewables required had caused investment and deployment to slow dramatically, with less than 200MW of wind capacity added in 2016.

The CEC also said the fall in costs, additional support from the Australia Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, together with state-level initiatives had also contributed to the high level of investment.

"The clean energy industry is on the verge of a major breakthough," the report said.

A total of 15 new wind projects were either under construction or had financing in place at the end of the year, the CEC said, following the addition of 547MW in 2017.

According to the CEC, Australia had a little over 4.8GW of wind capacity installed at the end of 2017, providing 5.7% of the nation’s electricity, on par with hydropower.

As a whole, renewables provided 17% of the nation’s electricity last year.

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