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Renewables jobs growth and confidence up, for now

Employment opportunities for people in renewables looks strong, with 73 per cent of clean energy and storage companies planning to increase staff numbers in the next 12 months, according to the Clean Energy Council’s inaugural Clean Energy Outlook survey.

Released at Tuesday’s Australian Clean Energy Summit in Sydney, the survey found that only four per cent of companies were expecting to shed staff, with an additional 23 per cent expecting no change.

However, while jobs growth in the short-term is set to boom, companies remain cautious post-2020 due to policy uncertainty at the federal level.

The 100 chief and senior executives surveyed gave a rating of 6.9 out of 10 for investment confidence over the next three years, but were less certain into the future.

The Clean Energy Council said while this was a “reasonable” level of confidence, it was “certainly not strong”.

Policy uncertainty was the number one business challenge cited, followed by regulatory change, with the report saying executives were wary of making long-term investment decisions.

“A lack of coherent strategy by government to support the replacement of aged generators with low-cost renewables is a major impediment to the most efficient outcome for the country,” one respondent said.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the survey showed there was “cautious optimism”.

“The industry has been in a record growth phase, but those who have been around for a while have not forgotten the lean years in the middle of the decade caused by chronic political and policy uncertainty,” Mr Thornton said.

“Renewable energy like wind and solar is now the lowest-cost generation it is possible to build, but if we get the policy and regulatory settings wrong it will hurt economic activity across the sector.”

Mr Thornton said he was confident prosperity in the industry could continue if bipartisan support on energy policy were gained. 

New charter for community engagement

The Clean Energy Council on Tuesday also revealed a new best practice charter for renewable energy developments.

“The new Best Practice Charter for Renewable Energy Developments is a voluntary commitment by companies to engage respectfully with local communities, be sensitive to environmental and cultural values, and make a positive contribution to the local regions in which they operate,” Mr Thornton said.

“It includes a list of 10 pledges which promote sensitive development practices.”

Founding signatories include Acciona, AGL, Engie, Impact Investment Group, Lightsource BP, Origin, Pacific Hydro and Tesla.

  • See the charter and a full list of signatories

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