SolarReserve says Australia’s proposed renewable energy reforms are “catastrophic” for the local Concentrated Solar Power industry.

SolarReserve in talks with Queensland and WA miners about its groundbreaking 24-hour-a-day solar power stations says Australia’s proposed renewable energy reforms are “catastrophic” for the local Concentrated Solar Power industry.

SolarReserve has developed advanced concentrating solar ‘power towers’ equipped with storage technology, meaning they can supply solar power to the main grid 24 hours a day and fully displace the coal or gas-fired generators whose emissions are the major cause of climate change.

The US company is about to open the 110 megawatt Crescent Dunes solar power plant in Nevada, a project which was aided by a US government loan guarantee program and has resulted in local investment of more than US$700 million and 4,300 direct and indirect jobs.

The plant, which has a long-term power purchase contract with Nevada’s biggest electricity company, will provide enough zero-emissions power for 75,000 homes.

SolarReserve opened an Australian office last year and is holding talks with miners in Queensland and WA about using its technology as a lower cost long-term alternative to off-grid power from diesel and gas generation.

But SolarReserve on Thursday said job-creating renewable energy projects in Australia would grind to a halt if the federal government accepted recommendations issued last week by the Warburton review into the renewable energy target or RET.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott appointed climate change sceptic Dick Warburton to head a panel reviewing the RET which currently requires at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity to come from climate-safe sources by 2020.

The review recommended that the large-scale renewable energy target either be abolished or that a target be set annually depending on electricity demand trends.

“Both options recommended by the RET review committee for the large-scale renewable energy target are catastrophic for the renewable energy industry and will mean that very few, if any, new renewable energy projects are built, if the recommendations are accepted,” SolarReserve’s director of development for Australia, Daniel Thompson, said on Thursday.

“The investment associated with these projects will instead be made by companies such as SolarReserve in other international markets which have more favourable policy and regulatory environments,” Mr Thompson said.

GE, one of Australia’s largest foreign investors, this week also rejected the Warburton review proposals for the large-scale RET, saying either proposal would risk pushing up household power bills and also raise sovereign risk issues for the Australian economy.

“The projects SolarReserve builds create thousands of local jobs and allow the transition of people and resources from existing coal and gas based thermal power stations to renewable concentrating solar thermal power stations, but the RET is needed to drive this change,” Mr Thompson said.

He said Australia’s RET has “clearly proven itself successful” in driving investment of more than $20 billion in renewable energy projects to date, creating at least 24,000 jobs and lowering wholesale electricity prices.