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Australian renewables head for a “boom-time” 2017

Renewable energy in Australia is shaping up for a “boom-time” 2017, powered by a rebound in hydro-power generation, the plunging cost of big solar, and ambitious and motivated state and territory governments.

In its latest annual Clean Energy Australia report, the Clean Energy Council says that an “unprecedented program” of renewable energy projects is set to go to construction across course of this year, totalling 3150MW of new generation capacity – approximately half what is needed to meet the remainder of RET.

“At least 30 renewable energy projects will be under construction during 2017, in what is shaping up to be the biggest year for the industry since the iconic Snowy Hydro Scheme was built more than half a century ago,” the report says.

The projects are also expected to deliver more than $6.9 billion in investment and create 3725 jobs, much of them in regional Australia.

The CEC said the “ambitious scope” of renewable energy development in 2017 was largely due to the bipartisan support returned to the RET in 2015, continued falls in the cost of renewables and strong support from state and territory governments, as well as from ARENA and CEFC – the latter two are credited with pushing the price of large-scale solar down to almost half what it was just a couple of years ago.

The report was particularly keen to note the influence of state and territory policies and targets, which it said had returned stability to a market “badly shaken” by the previous Coalition Abbott government’s extended RET Review, while also acting to “fill the void of robust national energy and climate policy” beyond 2020.

“Many state governments have recognised the job and investment opportunities available under the Renewable Energy Target,” the report says.

“Given much of the expected $10 billion of investment and thousands of jobs generated from renewable projects will go into regional areas, the attraction is obvious for governments seeking economic opportunities outside the major cities.”

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