This week I was invited to a conference organised by La Camara – the Spanish Chamber of Business and Commerce in Australia. Representatives from numerous large Spanish Renewable Energy developers and EPCM contractors gathered, as well as infrastructure companies.
Spanish companies have had much success in the past 5 years implementing their services and product portfolio in Australia and subsequently bringing down prices for the delivery of large-scale energy and infrastructure projects in “high labour cost Australia”.
After many years of uncertainty and adverse policy by the Abbott government (both in opposition and in government) the industry seems to be much more positive again, despite – or maybe because of – the government’s best efforts to make renewable energy go away.
What struck me at this conference was the proactive stance that the Australian States and Territories are taking on both sides of the political spectrum. Aside from a few solar and wind projects edging towards financial close after the confirmation of the (lowered) Renewable Energy Target (RET) one thing was quite striking: Independent from the federal government’s negative attitude towards renewables, they have very aggressive targets of their own lined up to guarantee more renewable energy generation. Amongst other measures, they are contemplating “Recommended Retail Portfolios” for their utilities to ensure a stronger up – take of renewables and also state-based targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
A federal approach towards standards and policies, would, of course, be an ideal scenario to ensure that the best technologies and cost-effective projects are being picked, but there seems to be no going back to new coal and gas-fired generation anymore.
Many uncertainties remain, like for instance how a new decentralised grid will look like, what role energy storage will play, and what federal government policies will look like in the future. However, ahead of an Australian network operator said recently in a conversation that network operators and utilities “need to change, or they will get UBERed”. Looking at the role renewable energy is playing in the current Canning By-election in WA and how strongly the States and Territories are pushing for more renewable energy – this might also apply to the current federal government…
Jan is our Renewable Energy Specialist and is passionate about investing time and energy in creating a better tomorrow. For more witty articles, follow Jan on LinkedIn!