Australia: slow Q2 for renewables generation investments is “concerning”, says CEC

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EGPA’s 275MW Bungala Solar Farms 1 and 2 in South Australia, a state which saw no new renewables generation investment last quarter . Image: Inpex Corporation

Q2 2023 was one of the lowest periods for financial commitments to future renewable energy generation projects in Australia since 2017, according to trade body the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

Between March and July, AU$225 million (US$145 million) worth of financial commitments for new renewables generation projects – solar PV and wind – were signed. This compared with AU$2.4 billion (US$1.5 billion) of investment in projects under construction and AU$915 million (US$590 million) into commissioned projects over the last quarter.

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The CEC’s Renewable Projects Quarterly Report found that four generation projects closed financial commitments in Q2 – four more than were signed off in Q1, but the first half of this year was still the slowest recorded since the CEC’s records began in 2017. The projects represent a planned 348MW capacity.

Another four projects worth over 1.1GW in capacity began construction in Q2, and five were commissioned adding 551MW capacity to the grid.

By contrast, energy storage projects saw strong commissioning and investment in Q2 with 1497MW/3802MWh closing financial commitments. Storage busted the rolling quarterly average over the last year for Australia by 2480MWh.

The CEC said that its findings continued a “concerning investment trend” for renewables generation in Australia. Its reporting on Q4 2022 investment – covered by PV Tech– found that the general investment trend for renewables was downward, despite a one-time quarterly uptick following the AU$2 billion financial close of the Golden Plains wind farm’s first phase.

This potentially spells out some concern for the near-term future of solar and wind generation deployment in Australia. On average, the five projects that were commissioned in Q2 took 28 months from their financial close to their commissioning, the CEC said, and so far 2023 has yielded a total of four projects reaching financial close.

Q2 2023 was one of the busiest quarters for projects under construction, but the pipeline of projects following these once they reach completion is looking relatively dry.

Western Australia hosted half of the financially committed projects this quarter, with Victoria then Queensland and New South Wales splitting the others.

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