Whilst not the first casualty of Australia’s energy policy quagmire, the 100 jobs lost at Keppel Prince – a sustainable engineering company in Victoria – is perhaps the largest that Australia has seen so far. Due to the cost associated with scrapping the RET, Keppel Prince is no longer able to support its Wind Farm division, which has no incoming projects after November 2014. The Greens have labelled it “a tragic day for clean energy and for the workers involved”.
This distressing turn of events comes as the Labour government finally speaks up about working with the Abbot Government to find a workable energy solution. Yesterday afternoon in Canberra, Chris Bowen announced that a realistic Renewable Energy Target needed bi-partisan support and that the Labour government was committed to making it work. He also rejected the Coalition’s opening bid of a 40% reduction in the current targets. As we’ve seen with Keppel Prince, the renewables industry is still young and relatively immature and needs an RET to give short term support as it grows. The Clean Energy Council (CEC) supports this, saying that if Australia continues without it – or even a 20% RET – it would “lead to the decimation of the renewable energy industry and drive up power prices for consumers”.
The CEC’s Chief Kane Thornton compounded this, commenting that “over $10 billion worth of investment has been made in large-scale renewable energy projects” and that a “real 20 per cent [target] was a death warrant for large sections of the industry, and would destroy the value of both future and existing investments”.