Infigen flags Aussie pre-poll jitters

Australia-based renewable power producer Infigen has warned that anxiety over the outcome of the country’s national election has cast a long shadow over clean-energy development.

Infigen – which operates 1.65GW of wind capacity in Australia and the US – told investors the near-term regulatory environment remains “challenging” in its home market, despite the recent boost of a positive outcome of a review of the national Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Independent government advisors said the RET – which requires utilities to supply 20% of the country’s energy needs from renewable sources – should stay at its present level.

But the opposition  Liberal-National Coalition led by Tony Abbott – which is setting the pace in pre-election polls ahead of the 7 September ballot – has been lukewarm at best over the RET, and positively hostile to other elements of current renewable policy.

Infigen said: “Vested interests in the fossil fuel generation sector continue to lobby forcefully to reduce the RET.

“The upcoming Federal election has exacerbated the uncertainty to a point where the market for new renewable energy project development is very weak, and the appetite to contract existing assets is poor.”

However, Infigen said investment sentiment should improve once the election is over, and with a further positive review of the RET in 2014.

Infigen reported a full-year net loss of A$80m ($72m), worse than the A$55.9m deficit it posted in 2012, mainly due to a write-down on the value of its US assets.

But revenue was 7% up at  A$286m and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) improved 13% to A$158.2m