Aust ‘back on the map’ for green investors

Aust ‘back on the map’ for green investors

Aust ‘back on the map’ for green investors

A federal government with more ambition on energy and climate policy has lifted Australia out of the naughty corner for global capital.

“This is now a very significant market opportunity by global standards,” leading renewable energy investor David Scaysbrook said on Tuesday.

“What’s attractive about it is the sheer scale and the time frame over which it has to be achieved,” the co-founder of global investors Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners said at a post-election media briefing.

But backing up the election rhetoric with the policy settings to win long-term investors is yet to be tested, he says.

The aspirational targets of the incoming Labor government, and the swathe of Greens and independent politicians who will hold the balance of power in the upper house, are more ambitious than in the past.

“This is putting Australia back on the map in the eyes of global institutions looking at renewables and decarbonising industry,” Mr Scaysbrook said.

The groundwork for the electricity market redesign has already been done by the Energy Security Board on behalf of state and territory energy ministers and in consultation with industry.

Post-election, investors expect even more momentum for renewable energy to transform the grid and significant opportunities from decarbonising heavy industries ranging from steel to fertilisers.

Australia’s $3.5 trillion superannuation pool and global investors could be poised to make long-term green investment commitments.

“As a business person and someone focused on the green economy, this is the most hopeful we have been in decades,” Mr Scaysbrook said.

The electricity sector alone is set to go from 30 per cent renewable energy to at least 80 per cent in next eight years.

“We’re talking about setting ourselves a goal that would truly be stunning in the rate of deployment,” he said.

Kane Thornton, CEO of the Clean Energy Council, has released an open letter to the expected next climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen.

“The private sector is keen to invest. You just need to create the right policy and regulatory settings and not make any radical or unpredictable moves, and the capital will flow,” the letter says.

“Your 2030 emissions reduction target, with sensible refinements to the safeguard mechanism, will be essential to driving economy-wide decarbonisation.”

Mr Thornton says the energy sector, not the taxpayer, can and should do the heavy lifting.

US-listed solar company Enphase Energy has called for the new government to convene a renewable energy summit, similar in impact to former prime minister Bob Hawke’s national economic summit of 1983.

“After a decade of lost opportunities through division, now is the time to work together,” Enphase Energy executive Wilf Johnston said.

The incoming Labor government has a target of reducing carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, while some independent MPs are calling for a much more ambitious cut of 60 per cent this decade.

An energy summit could bring together energy generators, transmitters and retailers, equipment suppliers, industry regulators, consumer advocates, and energy ministers from state and federal governments.

Mr Bowen on Tuesday backed in Labor’s politics, resisting pressure from newly elected teal independents who won after pledging climate action and integrity in government.

Meanwhile, Quinbrook is looking for a partner, or sale, for its Lockyer Valley energy project, which could pivot in purpose as the largest approved site for battery storage on the east coast.

The Lockyer project is fully permitted for up to six gas turbines and up to 1000 megawatts of electricity generation capacity.

The plant was one of the gas projects shortlisted under former energy minister Angus Taylor’s controversial Underwriting New Generation Investments (UNGI) program.

The change of government “doesn’t mean it’s dead in the water”, Mr Scaysbrook said.

Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)