Australia Posts Record-Setting Year for Renewables


Investments in, and the deployment of renewable energy in Australia is at an all-time high, in what’s being nicknamed “a remarkable year” for sustainable energy development, according to the latest report from the Clean Energy Council.

The Clean Energy Council’s 2019 “Clean Energy Report” shows that Australia set records in both the deployment of solar, as well as investment in the renewable energy sector. While the report brings good news, the authors wanted to underline the importance of ironing out the irregularities and uncertainties that “threatens to slow momentum” for the industry.

The Clean Energy Council says that around 4,000 new jobs were created in the renewables sector, with strong investments in the technology accounting for $4.3 billion in 2019. As it stands nation-wide, 76% of Australia’s energy needs are met by fossil fuels, while 24% are being met by renewables. Within this, 35% came from wind, 25% from hydro-electric, 22.3% from small-scale solar, with large-scale solar, bioenergy and medium-scale solar accounting for 9.3, 6 and 1.3% respectively.

Australia managed to set its third consecutive record for the installation of rooftop solar, with 2,200-megawatts added to the grid in 2019 thanks to 34 large-scale projects completed.

According to the report, renewable energy was responsible for 24 per cent of Australia’s total electricity generation in 2019, an increase of 2.7 percentage points on 2018. For a brief period, renewables passed the 50 per cent mark of total generation in the national electricity market in November. “While this was only fleeting, it will be an increasingly common occurrence as renewable energy penetration increases in the coming years,” authors state.

2019 marked the strongest results for wind-powered electricity generation, adding 837-megawatts of capacity to the grid, with eight new wind farms coming online. It also marked the first time that wind overtook hydroelectric power as Australia’s leading source of clean energy, which produced more than 35% of the grid’s electricity generation.

On a state and territory basis, Tasmania, The ACT and South Australia led the charge. Tasmania has reported that 95.6% of its 10,786GWh of electricity are met by renewables- accounting for a 95.6% penetration rate.

The ACT became just the eighth state or territory in the world to be powered completely by renewables, with South Australia reporting 50% of its energy needs being met by renewable energy; the state aiming for a 100% target by the end of the decade.

Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland are on the other side of the spectrum, with renewable energy penetration of their grids recorded at 20.9, 17.1 and 14.1% respectively.

Kane Thornton, Chief Executive at the Clean Energy Council said “whether it was the achievement of the Renewable Energy Target, a record year for the construction of wind and solar or the emergence of the hydrogen industry, by any measure 2019 was a remarkable year for the Australian renewable energy industry.”

“Despite the industry’s record-breaking year, the electricity grid and the lack of a long-term energy policy continue to be a barrier to further growth for large-scale renewable investment,” he added. “While Australia’s energy regulators are working hard to address these issues, a quick resolution is essential to ensuring that the industry’s momentum can be stored.

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