Hunt Talks Up Australian Renewables In Shanghai

Environment Minister Greg Hunt - Renewable Energy

Australia’s Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, provided a glowing report on the state of renewable energy in Australia at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Conference in Shanghai yesterday.

Minister Hunt didn’t want to discuss the not-so-glorious recent past for renewables under ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s reign, stating he wished to focus on “the positive agenda that the Australia has in place to harness energy innovation, support renewables and reduce emissions.”

Mr. Hunt told those gathered Australia boasts 2.4 million solar hot water and solar power systems, and has the highest proportion of households with solar panels globally at 15 per cent. This growth has been supported by programs such as the Solar Credits subsidy, which is still available. Additional incentives such as a tax deduction for asset purchases valued up to $20,000 are available for small business.

The Minister said renewables currently make up approximately 13 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation, a figure that will rise to 23.5 per cent by 2020 under the Renewable Energy Target.

Mr. Hunt was also optimistic about the future of home battery storage, quoting Morgan Stanley research estimating up to a million Australian households could have solar + storage in place by 2020.

The Minister was also very positive about the efforts of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA); agencies the Abbott government attempted to axe.

” Australia also excels in the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies through the Renewable Energy Target and investments made by the Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation,” he said; also detailing some of the projects both agencies have been involved with.

The Minister also mentioned the CEFC and ARENA working together to jointly support the deployment of large scale solar with a $350 million package.

Reading over his comments, it’s hard to believe that a short time ago Australia’s renewable industry was facing a major threat from a government-led attack that saw investment in large scale projects plummet. With a change of leadership, the attitude towards renewables seems to have changed for the better.

The transcript of Minister Hunt’s speech can be downloaded here (PDF).