Australia is laying low on its commitment to support new and renewable sources of energy even as the rest of the world has stepped up their efforts.
The renewable energy investment of Australia has dipped to its lowest levels in 13 years, with just only $40 million invested in the first half of the year. The amount is reportedly the lowest since 2001.
UK Renewable Energy
On the other hand, more money is being invested in UK renewable energy. In the first three months of 2011, official records showed that 20 per cent of the electricity generated in the United Kingdom came from UK renewable energy sources like wind power, hydropower, and solar power.
UK renewable energy generated 19.4 percent of the electricity in the country, or an increase of seven percentage points for the same period in 2013. The European nation is committed to source at least 15 percent of all its power from sustainable source of energy by 2020.
Other developed countries are going green on energy production too. The largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, China has allotted $19 billion for the new and renewable energy sector as of the first half of the year. The rest of the world has exhausted $63 billion in funds on sustainable energy in the second quarter of the year.
The United States, meanwhile, has invested $10.6 billion for renewable energy, while Europe has furthered its investments to $16 billion.
The War on Australian Renewables
So why the change of heart? Australia used to be in the forefront of new and renewable sources of energy. But the change in the investment for renewables has been prompted by the Abbott government’s repeal of the carbon tax and review of the renewable energy target (RET). In 2013, the country invested $2.7 billion for renewable energy but so far, it has only pumped in $40 million to this sector.
According to Kobad Bhavnagri of Bloomberg New Energy finance, the sharp decline in Australian investment started during last year’s election. The investments further dipped when the coalition came into power.
In February this year, the Abbott government created a panel that will review the country’s RET of creating 41,000 gWh of renewable energy by the end of the decade. But climate change advocates were up in arms over the inclusion of known climate change sceptic Dick Warburton, fearing that the panel will push for the reductions in the RET. This could trigger the viability of existing investments in renewable energy.
Kane Thornton of the industry group Clean Energy Council believes that the renewable industry in Australia is at a standstill. He said that stakeholders in the sector are holding off almost all new investments pending the release of the panel’s RET report which is expected to happen in the next few weeks.
With UK renewable energy investments as well as those of other countries’ on the upswing, many Australians now wonder what will happen to their nation’s renewable energy goals that had been thought of as the answer to the increasing costs of electricity here.