The Good News for Renewable Energy in the 2017 Budget

Is the Environment and Energy Minister setting Australia up for a modern and dynamic energy system? There is plenty of good news in the recent Budget that indicates times are quickly changing for large corporations in Australia that seek to take up solar and renewable energy.

Last year the ABC reported that Australia had a record-breaking year when it came to major solar projects, predicting an upward trend with their continued construction. It seems that large scale solar projects are also occurring with less government intervention; a hugely positive signal.

In states such as South Australia, the uptake has been markedly robust, with renewable wind and solar projects set to become even more cost efficient. The 2017 Budget displayed plenty of positive indicators, when Josh Frydenberg, Environment and Energy Minister, promised over $36 million for South Australian power infrastructure projects set to be delivered by 2020.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics paints a clear picture on the uptake of solar energy across households in the country with surveys revealing that more than 14% are now utilising solar panels to generate electricity. This includes all homes with solar electricity, with or without a solar hot water system.

However, previously when it came to big business and large corporations, the story seemed to be quite different. Large scale solar still accounted for around only 0.2% of energy use by big businesses across the country, which is surprising as there are significant Government incentives and rebates available to all organisations to heavily subsidise the cost of installing solar. In some case the costs can be covered up to a massive 40% of the total expenditure.

Towards 2020, incentives are getting stronger. Frydenberg was optimistic, stating that, “The nation’s energy system is undergoing its greatest transition since electricity became widely available in Australia (with) the measures in this package setting Australia up for a modern and dynamic energy system.” The aim is to allow Australians to keep pace with changing technologies on a global scale.

As reported by the ABC, the record was set in 2016 when it came to Australian construction of new large-scale solar projects. Big business can take up solar power with payback expected for between three and six years, and the incentive to only pay for the solar energy that they use. Fixed prices can also hedge against future price rises with solar panels providing a guaranteed year-on-year output for up to 25 years.

“The Government is committed to delivering affordable and reliable energy, using whichever technology can best deliver it,” states The Budget 2017’s official website. “The first phase of the Government’s energy security plan comprises practical steps to promote reliable and affordable energy for businesses and households.”

This commitment will incentivise solar and other renewable energy for big and small businesses alike with greater numbers of businesses now looking to conduct feasibility studies to generate clean and renewable energy.

For the best part of the last five years, the Government has devoted approximately $220 million in electricity storage technologies, including modern forms of renewable energy. These include concentrated solar thermal technologies aimed at addressing the challenges “posed by increasing levels of intermittent renewable energy sources” such as solar and wind, according to The Budget official news portal.

With energy such a large focus of The 2017 Budget, it’s no surprise that many Australian corporations will now be “watching this space” with an aim to not only make their offering greener but potentially saving themselves significant capital as well.