Giles Parkinson has left The Climate Spectator to start a new site called REneweconomy. One of the first posts has a range of comments from leaders of Australian cleantech companies - The top Australian cleantech predictions for 2012.
It is clear that 2012 will be a critical year for cleantech in Australia. Costs for many technologies are falling rapidly, but critical decisions will be made about renewable energy targets and support mechanisms.
The carbon price will finally be introduced, the shape and purpose of the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation will be decided, reviews will be held into the Renewable Energy Target and many of the regulatory issues surrounding the energy industry, and on solar tariffs, tough decisions may be taken on programs such as Solar Flagships, and more funding will start to flow into cleantech R&D. And, of course, there will be the final version of energy White Paper.
We asked the heads of Australia’s cleantech companies and industry groups what they predicted for the year. This is what they said:
Lane Crockett, general manager, Pacific Hydro
“For the Chinese, 2012 is the year of the dragon, but for Australia 2012 must be the year we move on renewable energy. After a number of years of policy uncertainty driven by constant adjustments to the LRET and a protracted carbon price debate we should start to see some confidence return to the market as these important reforms are hopefully now well and truly bedded down. Critically, 2012 sees compliance obligations of energy retailers under the LRET scheme start to escalate substantially.
“This will help to soak up any remaining oversupply of renewable energy certificates and should signal a strong surge in contracting activity. If liable parties are tardy and don’t prepare sufficiently for future escalating obligations they may find themselves paying substantially more for certificates than they were anticipating and rue the lost opportunity to lock in long-term low cost compliance. Underlying this opportunity is the combination of excess wind turbine manufacturing capacity and a strong Australian dollar leading to some of the lowest cost turbines for some time. Hopefully 2012 will be a year to remember for all the right reasons.”
Evan Thornley, CEO Better Place
“2012 is the year of the electric car. It’s the year we’ll look back on and say: that’s when the transformation started – the biggest and most profound transformation to transport in over a century. Every major car-maker in the world has electric models either in production or in development. The auto industry has recognised it. Capital markets have recognised it. Governments have recognised it. Here in Australia, electric cars will arrive on our shores in mass volumes for the first time in the second half of the year. This means people can finally exercise a choice to drive something faster, quieter, cheaper and greener.”
Miles George, CEO, Infigen Energy
In the Australian renewable energy sphere I expect:
· the effectiveness of the large scale renewable energy target scheme will be significantly enhanced as residual surplus small scheme RECs are absorbed, and the scheduled review of the scheme confirms a stable future regulatory regime for the large scale renewable energy industry
· political partisanship on climate change response will diminish, and carbon emissions pricing will become much more widely accepted.
· wind and solar PV technologies will continue to significantly improve their cost competitiveness with burning fossil fuels, whilst other renewable energy technologies will struggle to keep up with the pace
· carbon capture and storage technology will increasingly be recognised as a pipe dream ...
Jack Curtis, head of Australia and Asia-Pacific, First Solar
‘2012 will mark the year that Australia’s first utility-scale solar project becomes a reality – with the Greenough River Solar Farm to be fully operational mid-year. In the second half of last year, the Federal Government’s ‘Clean Energy Future’ package was released, and with it the possibility of two new independent bodies: the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). This year will be critical as it relates to the establishment of their respective mandates and their ability to support new project development in 2012.
“The Gillard Government has suggested that the CEFC could be functioning by mid-year. Both of these bodies will be vital to encouraging the next level of renewable adoption in Australia. Their ability to operate autonomously in concert with the private sector is also essential. If implemented effectively, our view is that the CEFC should alleviate the medium-term commercial viability gap that exists for emerging renewable technologies. Most importantly, the CEFC needs to facilitate and encourage private sector participation and adoption of new technologies.
“We had some positive movement from state governments last year, especially the ACT, with the announcement of a ‘reverse auction’ tariff program being established for large-scale solar. Outside the ACT, we also expect to see more utility-scale solar PV projects in development throughout Australia, with Western Australia being a key location given its strong macro drivers for solar. First Solar’s goal is to be the most bankable execution mechanism for utility-scale solar projects in Australia with a focus on driving the adoption of solar more broadly and a significant reduction in the cost of delivering solar electricity.”
Michael Ottaviano, CEO, Carnegie Wave Energy
My predictions for 2012 ….
· Solar pv will continue towards retail parity price driven by cheap Chinese manufacturing dominance,
· Wind turbine manufacturing will move in the same way to emerging market sand with the same result – costs also approaching pricing parity (although, unlike solar, at the wholesale level) and the slow decline of western turbine manufacturers (only investment in innovation and development of proprietary technology will be effective against China’s cheap cost of labour and capital),
· Billions of Euros will be committed in the EU offshore wind market – France will be the latest country to announce multi-GW projects
· The start of the Australian carbon price and resilience of domestic economy leads to renewed local interest in cleantech focused on carbon sequestering technologies such as Pacific Pyrolysis
· A shake out in marine energy as a few well capitalized and advanced developers deliver first commercial scale projects alongside major EU industrial partners including Carnegie who will commence construction of its first multi MW CETO project, ...