Recurrent 'to close' Australia office

Recurrent Energy, the San Francisco-based PV developer, will close down its office in Australia, in the latest sign of the chilling effect the government’s wholesale policy review is having on the renewables sector.

Recurrent, which his owned by Japan’s Sharp, entered Australia in 2010 – its first push outside of North America.

Recurrent will not bin the dozen or so utility-scale PV projects it has under development in Australia, but it will close its offices in Sydney and shift management of those projects to the US, according to a local press report.

The decision was communicated by Colin Liebmann, Recurrent’s acting vice president in Australia, to colleagues in the Australian solar sector in a recent email, the report says. Recurrent will reopen in Australia should the policy landscape become more favourable.

The decision will be seen as reflecting Recurrent’s bearishness on the outcome of the review of Australia’s 20% by 2020 Renewable Energy Target that is currently underway, set in motion by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a climate and renewables sceptic, upon taking power last year.

The review was due for publication imminently, although reports suggest it may be delayed. Many observers expect the target to be significantly watered down.

Several weeks ago Australia scrapped its globally praised carbon tax, making good on one of Abbott’s key election pledges.

A number of major wind and solar players – including GE, Abengoa, First Solar and Goldwind – have expressed concern about Australia’s renewables review, which is being led by an avowed climate sceptic.

Investment into Australia’s renewables sector has slowed to a trickle over the past year, due in large part to policy uncertainty bred by the review.