Australia is the sunniest country in the world – and one of the windiest. This creates huge energy efficiency opportunities. In fact, Australia has enough renewable energy resources to power the country 500 times over.

Furthermore, in the period 2009-2014, global wind power costs fell 14% and solar cell system prices fell 75% and are projected to fall another 45% over the next five years, which would make it the cheapest form of electricity generation.

Federal resistence

Despite the massive potential, The Federal Government is uncertain on the future of renewable energy. The lack of clear federal policy has led to a drop in renewable energy investment.

Not only does Australia have a low share of renewable electricity generation – seventh lowest among 28 member countries of the international energy Agency. In 2013, jobs in the renewable energy sector fell by 13% while global employment grew by the same amount.

Australia has the highest emissions per person of all developed countries and is responsible for about 1.3 per cent of the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases. Australian emissions should decrease by an average rate of 1.9% until 2030; instead, with current policies, they are set to increase by an average rate of 1.2% per year.

The key findings:

• Twenty-one thousand Australians are already employed in the renewable energy industry and this could increase to 32,000 in 15 years with a strong and consistent policy environment.

• The Federal government is seeking to weaken the renewable energy Target Consequently investment in renewable energy in 2014 has dropped by 70 percent compared with the previous year.

• A lack of clear federal policy has led to a drop in renewable energy investment.

• Jobs in the renewable energy sector fell by 13% in Australia in 2013 while global employment grew by the same amount.

On the plus side …

Australian governments at all levels have implemented a wide range of policies to reduce emissions over the last two decades.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is a government-initiated investment fund that provides financial assistance to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies and increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia.

In 2012–13, ARENA commissioned four major projects totalling $560 million and managed more than 150 projects with commitments of $1.1 billion.

Read more about the study of climate change targets for Australia here.