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Bodangora Windfarm project still hampered by renewable energy uncertainty

Bodangora’s windfarm still hangs in the balance as the new year begins with its proponent, Infigen Energy, still frustrated by uncertainty over reviews.

“Continued indecision by the Coalition government on recommitting to the Renewable Energy Target is costing investment and jobs in the Wellington area,” Infigen Energy project manager Frank Boland said.

“The proposed Bodangora wind farm will only proceed once the government makes their decision. This will give retailers the necessary confidence and certainty to contract the output from the 100-megawatt wind farm.

“The Bodangora wind farm is largely shovel-ready and upon obtaining an offtake arrangement for the project, Infigen can proceed towards financing and construction. Without confidence in the Renewable Energy Target, electricity retailers are not going to have the confidence to contract a power purchase agreement with new wind projects.

“Numerous polling sources have showed that an overwhelming majority of electricity consumers wish to see a greater proportion of renewable energy in Australia’s generation mix.

“Australia should embrace renewable energy and aspire to a cleaner and modern electricity industry. The proposed Bodangora wind farm has all the necessary attributes to be a successful project. Upon policy certainty being restored it is well placed to proceed towards construction.”

Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported global investments in renewable energy rose to record levels in 2014 but fell sharply in Australia because of uncertainty triggered by the Abbott government’s review of the industry.

Worldwide investment in wind farms, solar photovoltaics and other clean energy sources jumped 16 per cent last year to $US310 billion ($383 billion), or more than five times the tally of a decade earlier. Solar investments accounted for almost half the total.

China led the way, with investment soaring almost one-third to $US89.5 billion, while US investment gained 8 per cent to $US51.8 billion, and Brazil’s almost doubled to $US7.9 billion.

Australia, though, went the other way, with investment sinking 35 per cent to $US3.7 billion. BNEF said the amount was the “lowest since 2009, as wind and solar project developers delayed decisions while they awaited the government’s response to its Renewable Energy Target review”.

“Four wind farms are currently under construction, but these signed contracts before the last RET review,” said Darren Gladman, the acting policy director for the Clean Energy Council.

“No more projects in the country have imminent construction plans.

“Australia is not just at risk of falling behind the rest of the world on renewable energy, we have already slipped off the back of the wave. We have some of the best sun, wind and waves in the world, but this new research shows that we are squandering some of our huge natural advantages.”

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has sought to cut the country’s renewable energy target from the current goal of 41 terawatt-hours annually by 2020 to as low as 27tWh.

So far, the Senate has blocked such a move but uncertainty over whether and when the goal will be reset has made it almost impossible to raise financing for new projects.

“Labor has offered to reopen negotiations around the RET in the interest of returning the policy to the bipartisanship that saw jobs in the industry triple while Labor was in government,” said a spokeswoman for Mark Butler, the opposition spokesman for the environment.

“However, our negotiating principles remain the same – Labor will not support any proposal that decimates the industry, including reducing the RET by 40 per cent.”