The Abbott Government has taken its anti-renewables campaign to new levels, and is essentially sending a message that Australia is not open for business if you are a wind developer, writes Victoria McKenzie McHarg.

It's hard to imagine a fledgling industry being attacked and undermined by a national government the way the renewables sector is by the Abbott Government.

It might not be so shocking if we were talking about an industry that had a business that damaged community health (like, say, tobacco) or threatened the health and safety of current and future generations (like, say, coal).

But renewables provide energy that is clean, safe and potentially very good for Australia's economy.

This week's bombshells take the Government's anti-renewables campaign to new levels.

On the weekend it emerged that Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann had written to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, telling the $10 billion "green bank" to stop investing in wind power.

In addition, the ministers have told the CEFC to exclude direct investment in small-scale solar.

Their rationale is that the CEFC should concentrate on "new, innovative and emerging technologies", rather than "mature technologies", like wind and solar.

This begs the question: what was the purpose of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation in the first place?

The CEFC emerged from a concept proposed by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Investor Group on Climate Change.

Funding for renewable energy in Australia was struggling to match commercial needs, with the result that Australian-made technology was going to China, California and Spain.

The idea was that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation would help keep Australian technology here, creating Aussie jobs. The plan was to help Australia move to a lower carbon economy and help renewable energy projects with financing solutions.

The CEFC's stated mandate is to "facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector".

And it has worked.

Since it started operations in July 2013, the CEFC has contracted investments of more than $900 million in projects with a total value of more than $3 billion.

A separate body, ARENA, complemented the work of the CEFC. ARENA started operating in 2012.

ARENA's mandate was to create and support renewable energy technology innovation, which is exactly what the Abbott Government now says the CEFC was established to do.

ARENA offers financial assistance for research, development, demonstration, deployment and commercialisation.

Solar PV has been a success story in Australia. According to the Clean Energy Council, more than 15,000 businesses across the country have solar power systems, collectively saving them more than $64 million on their electricity bills.

And small-scale solar is hugely popular. Solar Citizens estimates that 87 per cent of Australians are in favour of rooftop solar.

A recent survey by Solar Citizens of more than 5000 solar households across the nation shows 60 per cent of solar owners have cut their bills by more than half.

Wind is also important in lowering Australians' energy costs.

According to the Clean Energy Council, in 2014, Australia's wind farms produced more than 30 per cent of the country's clean energy. Wind power supplied 4.2 per cent of Australia's overall electricity during the year. Australia had 1866 wind turbines spread across 71 wind farms at the end of 2014.

Three wind farms with a combined power generation capacity of 566.7 megawatts (MW) were completed in 2014 and a further five wind farms remained in progress early in 2015 and are expected to be completed in 2015.

Last year saw renewable energy investment stall on the back of the Government's attack on the RET.

We saw the RET ratcheted down 20 per cent to 33,000GWh and a deal done behind the scenes as Government made an agreement with anti-wind crossbenchers to secure native forest wood burning in the RET.

At the time it looked like the agreement was to create an unnecessary wind commissioner to take complaints on wind projects.

Now we are seeing the Government has used that agreement as the basis for even stronger action against renewable energy.

The Government's new mandate to the CEFC is a further attempt to kill the wind industry in Australia despite the fact that wind energy is increasingly becoming competitive against conventional fossil fuels and is the lowest cost renewable energy that can be developed on a large scale.

There is massive investment and a huge number of jobs attached to wind energy. Other countries across the world are jumping on the opportunity that wind energy provides.

Here in Australia, it is the victim of a sustained anti-wind campaign by the Government that is essentially sending a message that Australia is not open for business if you are a wind developer.

There's no sunlight and an ill wind blowing from Canberra. This has to change.

This piece was first published by ABC's The Drum

Victoria McKenzie-McHarg

Climate stuff, art and my new kitten – love it all! Climate Change Campaign Manager at the Australian Conservation Foundation.