Changes to the Renewable Energy Target (RET) would cast a shadow of doubt over the future of Australia’s largest wind farm development, the company behind the project has said.
The Abbott Government announced a review of the scheme in February this year, which has thrown the future of the renewable energy sector into doubt with fears the scheme may be reduced or scrapped.
Senvion Australia’s proposed $1.5 billion wind farm near Ardrossan on the Yorke Peninsula was given State Government development approval in February this year.
The firm’s managing director Chris Judd said scrapping or reducing the RET would have a significant affect on the project.
“It does put a big cloud over the project, but we are of the view that sense will prevail, the data will be acknowledged and recognised, and the interests of the people will be respected and the RET will be untouched,” Mr Judd said.
Mr Judd said the Federal Government’s review into the efficacy of the target found there was little to no impact on price as a consequence of the RET.
He went on to say that that review had in fact found the higher the renewable energy target, the lower the cost of power would be to consumers in the future.
“When we look at the submissions to the Renewable Energy Review panel, there were some 24,000 submissions and over 99 per cent of those were in favour of the Renewable Energy Target,” he said.
“To have all that data in their hand and still be of a view that this target needs to be touched is a very surprising and quite frankly mind boggling position to take, because there is no one out there that’s looking for this target to be adjusted in any way.”
Mr Judd said the industry had grown to such a level that changes in Government policy would hit working Australians.
“We’re having significant impact on emissions, we’re driving down wholesale prices, we’re creating significant jobs in the order of tens of thousands of people, and investment to the tune of tens of billions of dollars in this sector,” Mr Judd said.
“Tens of thousands of people, their jobs, their livelihoods would be in a dire position as a consequence.”
Mr Judd maintained it was still early days for his project and that the company was yet to feel the full brunt of investment backlash from any decision on the RET.
Changes would hit South Australia hard
Clean Energy Council acting director Kane Thornton said the industry employed more than 21,000 people who relied on RET, and could be left without jobs if the changes were made.
“There are literally hundreds of really exciting renewable energy projects right around the country that are basically ready to go ahead, but they will only go ahead with the certainty about the future of the renewable energy target,” Mr Thornton said.
He said South Australia would be hit particularly hard, because it had led the nation in the development of renewable infrastructure.
Figures released by the council last week showed up to 43 per cent of the state’s energy production came from wind farms.
“South Australia has been a great place for wind and solar over the last few years, to the point where South Australia now has around half of the all of the country’s wind farms,” Mr Thornton said.
“There is massive uncertainty within the renewable energy industry at the moment and that’s because of the concern about possible changes to the Renewable Energy Target, and so we really are calling on Government to leave the target as currently legislated to do the job it was intended to do.
“If the policy was to be scrapped or significantly reduced, then we’d see a whole lot of these projects essentially put on hold and cancelled, and those companies would pack up or move to other countries around the world where they’re pushing harder in terms of renewable energy.”
Earlier this week, Sliex announced plans to scrap its 100 megawatt solar power plant near Mildura in north-western Victoria.
It came almost a month after Pacific Hyrdo shelved plans for a number of projects, including a 42 turbine windfarm at Keyneton, north-east of Adelaide.