Globally, new investment in renewables rose 17 per cent to a record $US257 billion in 2011. This increase has taken place at a time when the cost of renewable power equipment fell rapidly and there was substantive uncertainty over economic growth and policy priorities in developed countries.
One of the highlights of 2011 was the strong performance of solar power, which surpassed wind power, the biggest single sector investment in recent years. If Australia wants to share in this investment, it needs to position itself in the global market in a manner that attracts investors. Australia’s natural environment makes it attractive to renewable energy investors, but Australian governments must streamline processes to ensure quick and easy certainty around development approval.
Co-ordination amongst tiers of government
Despite the Federal Government’s policy and legislative reforms for clean energy, there has been considerable criticism of Australia’s commitment to sustainable development, given the lack of co-ordination across the tiers of government in the statutory development approval processes required for each major renewable energy project.
Have Australian policymakers over the years been more concerned with broader visionary statements and the carbon pricing scheme, rather than the method of approvals required before renewable energy projects can be delivered? Are our current statutory processes bogging us down in the assessment of projects, rather than their delivery to the market?
At the 33rd meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Canberra on 25 July 2012, the Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association discussed future competition and regulatory reform, and construction industry costs and productivity.