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Wind optimism stalls

The confidence that everyone had expected to return to the renewable energy sector following the demise of Tony Abbott, is yet to come to fruition.

Investors spent just $15 million since February 2014 on big wind, solar or other clean energy projects that were not otherwise supported by government programs such as the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

That figure is a huge drop from when investment peaked in 2011 on the back of government support for renewables.

Despite Mr Abbott’s removal as prime minister, and many key figures in the industry expectations of a return to bigger levels of investment, there is no certainty that the investment will return in 2016.

With a number of major wind farms in the Ballarat area already securing planning approval and only waiting on investment for construction to begin, development has stagnated.

Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said the industry had not rebounded as some had hoped, but there was still a lot of optimism.

“It is definitely the case that the market has not recovered since the Abbott government’s attack on the Rewnewable Energy Target,” he said.

“While there appears to be some optimism surrounding projects starting to progress, that hasn’t eventuated.

“It is now up to all the players, the banks, the retailers to come to the table and start resolving this impasse.”

The Abbott government’s repeal of the carbon tax in July 2014 – which removed long-term price support – and a mishandled review that led ultimately to a cut of about one-fifth in the 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET) meant “confidence evaporated” in the sector, said Kobad Bhavnagri, head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance in Australia.

“It can’t be understated that the actions of the Abbott government have destroyed confidence in the renewable energy market,” Mr Bhavnagri said. “Lenders in the market are almost all of the view that the political risks in the RET … have made it too risky to invest in.”