Australian renewables industry fears fresh roadblocks

Australia’s nascent renewable industry suffered a series of setbacks over the weekend as state and federal politicians continued to show reticence over support for the sector.

A group of wind farm developers warned on Saturday that the newly elected Baillieu coalition government in the state of Victoria is making it difficult to gain planning approval for new wind farms, after revealing plans to enforce a 2km “buffer zone” between wind farms and all residential properties.

Spanish firm Union Fenosa – which has three wind farms already approved in Victoria – told The Australian newspaper that further projects would now be harder to develop.

“There’s no doubt that it makes it a lot harder to propose wind farms in Victoria than it was previously,” a spokesman told the paper.

A survey of wind companies commissioned by the Clean Energy Council prior to this year’s election estimated that between 50 and 70 per cent of proposed wind farms would be abandoned if the Baillieu coalition pursued its policy.

The survey also found that expenditure in wind in Victoria would likely drop by A$2.6bn (£1.63bn) to A$3.6bn from 2010-16, while an estimated 200 fewer jobs would be created from 2010 to 2016 if the policy is enacted.

Meanwhile, on Friday climate change minister Greg Combet announced an end to the Solar Credit Multiplier scheme, which subsidises the installation of rooftop panels.

The news comes shortly after New South Wales announced it too was phasing out feed-in tariffs for solar power, causing outrage in the industry.

State and federal governments claim that a strong economy, a high dollar and falling technology costs mean that solar industry no longer needs government support.

Also on Friday the government refused to raise Australia’s emissions targets, despite pressure from its partners in the Green Party.

The Greens are pushing for carbon cuts of between 25 and 40 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020, but Labor has insisted on retaining its current target of a cut of five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 until certain criteria are fulfilled by other countries.

You can return to the main Market News page, or press the Back button on your browser.