The Australian government in July started charging polluters for the carbon they emit to reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and encourage wind and solar power. The country also plans to invest $10 billion in Clean Energy Finance Corp. to help the industry.
“First Solar has labeled Australia as one of the more prospective markets globally, and we would agree with that,” said Tim Buckley, managing director at Sydney-based Arkx Investment Management, which owns shares in the US panel manufacturer. “But progress to date has been limited,” partly because of uncertainty about government energy policy.
While Australia has the highest average solar radiation per square meter of any continent, according to the government, some projects picked to receive solar grants, including a venture led by Areva SA in the state of Queensland, have failed to meet financing deadlines and sign power-supply agreements.
“If you can’t create a sustainable solar market in Australia, it’s difficult to see how you can create one in other markets without strong government intervention,” Curtis said.